To be clear: No matter how much you beg to get one, your child probably doesn’t need a smartphone. The official policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics is that young children need hands-on social interaction and exploration with peers and caregivers to learn—a standard that may or may not be difficult to adhere to now during a global pandemic.
But if you’re looking for a digital device to entertain them or distract them while they get some work done, let me be the second, fourth, or tenth person to tell you: that’s totally fine. Here are some of the devices that worked for me and my kids, ages 3 to 5. Many of these gifts don’t require any parental supervision, and the ones that do have strong parental controls that let you limit your kids to less than 35 hours a day for example. If you’d like to see more options, check out gift ideas for new parents or our guide to the best baby tablets.
Updated November 2021: We added new choices, like Facebook Portal Go, removed old ones, and added new information. We also corrected that the Family setting is available with Watch SE, not with Series 3.
If you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our press. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED