In some ways, toddlers are the harshest movie critics. The best kids' movies for 1- to 3-year-olds can't be too boring, or long, or scary, or they'll make you turn them off. Even some of the best Disney movies might be a little too intense for the youngest ones. Next time you try to watch a movie together (or just need some time in the bathroom), try one of these toddler-pleasers.
The best part about Fun and Fancy Free — which still holds up, even though it was made back in the '40s — is that it's an anthology of two Disney shorts with some connecting material, so you don't have to watch it from beginning to end every time. You can pick and choose the bits your toddler likes best. (We always skip straight to "Mickey and the Beanstalk.")
To be honest, the 139-minute running time is probably too much for an antsy toddler to sit through, but you can skip to your favorite songs and still get a movie's worth of entertainment out of it.
While some of the animal violence may need to be fast-forwarded, it's worth putting this one on for the jazzy musical numbers; you get to sing "The Bare Necessities" together for the rest of the day!
While lots of other Disney movies have scary witches, dragons, or monsters, this bear of very little brain only gets into the mildest of scrapes. And yet the gentle antics of everyone's favorite Pooh bear are still entertaining for young ones.
One of the most family-friendly films from beloved Japanese animation Studio Ghibli, this movie follows two sisters as they move into a new house, where they meet strange and wonderful creatures (a couple of which may be menacing, but they go away).
In this movie, Elmo's lovey accidentally gets thrown away, and when he goes to retrieve it, he gets transported to Grouchland. Elmo is like catnip for toddlers, though, so it doesn't really matter what the movie is about so long as he's the star.
From Aardman Animation, the makers of , this stop-motion animated movie is a about a group of chickens who want to fly the coop and find freedom. That may seem like a complicated goal, but a bunch of claymation chickens running around is sure to get a giggle out of any toddler.
Little kids will love seeing the race cars zoom around the track — and they might like it even more when the movie slows down and settles into a story about small-town life along Route 66. If the scenes extolling the benefits of the simple life are lost on the kids, the antics of some of the town locals — like the lovable Mater the tow truck — will keep them interested.
This adorable primate gets into a lot of mischief, but it's always with a good heart. And parents will be relieved that the Man in the Yellow Hat is voiced by Will Ferrell, so there's something in it for them.
Most of the danger here comes in the form of a food critic (though there are a few people who try to catch Remy the rat in the kitchen), so it shouldn't be too frightening for little ones. And they'll enjoy the story of a rat who goes off to pursue his dream — or at least they'll get a kick out of the visual of a rat scurrying around the kitchen and cooking.
Pretty much anything that comes out of the zany mind of Dr. Seuss will gel with the brain of a toddler, but this one also has a good message about protecting the little guy — something little kids might also relate to on a gut level.
There's some peril in this movie, which is loosely based on The Little Mermaid, but if the kids can weather a little scariness, this is worth it for the beautiful Studio Ghibli animation.
Also by Aardman, this movie is about a farmer and his flock of sheep who lose each other in the Big City. The sheep, who are mostly the stars of the movie, don't talk, so there isn't a lot of dialogue that can go over a toddler's head, making it easy for the littlest viewers to understand.
All the Peanuts movies are great because they don't condescend to kids, and they're often about how being a kid can be a real struggle at times. While that message might be lost on toddlers until later, they'll still enjoy the antics of Snoopy and Woodstock, and get a kick out of the Peanuts children dancing.
This movie imagines the origins of soccer in caveman times, so any tot signed up for youth soccer might be interested. There's some peril (it is dinosaur times, after all), and some human meanness (football rivalries, you know), and some potty humor, but it's all done in a silly, cartoony way.