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Photograph: Disney Pixar

The best movies for toddlers for your next night in

Grab some popcorn and get cozy. The best movies for toddlers will keep the family plenty entertained!

Written by
Time Out Film
Danielle Valente

As any parent will tell you, usually with a resigned sigh, keeping a toddler entertained is not easy. By the age of two or so, these weird, usually wonderful, often exasperating munchkins are so excited by the world that no single activity engrosses them for very long. For us creaky oldsters, just trying to keep up with them is exhausting. 

Thankfully, that’s why the universe invented movies. Sure, the wee ones may not have enough of an attention span to sit still for a full film, but the best kids’ movies should still buy parents some time before they inevitably return to pulling books off the bookshelf, stealing your keys and ramming their heads into the wall. And anyway, it’s never too early to instil a love of cinema in the young’uns, and these 15 movies will certainly do the trick.


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Best movies for toddlers

Mary Poppins
The Walt Disney Company.

1. Mary Poppins

All kiddos should be so lucky as to have a nanny like Mary Poppins. This whimsical Disney tale follows the Banks children as they journey alongside their new caregiver who is nothing short of magical, and we assure you this heartwarming classic will never go out of style.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Photograph: Disney

2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Who can resist Pooh and his crew? Join our beloved bear as he moseys around the Hundred Acre Wood with the likes of Piglet, Tigger, Owl, Eeyore and other furry friends in this beloved 1977 classic. 

Photograph: Disney Pixar

3. Up

A thumb-shaped old man fulfils his late wife’s wishes with the help of an over-eager Wilderness Explorer and a talking dog named Dug. Kids will swoon at the floating house and Dug’s antics, while parents will have to explain why they’ve been sobbing since the first ten minutes. Anyone who wanders off mid-film deserves the cone of shame.

Thomas and Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor 
Photograph: Mattel Creations

4. Thomas and Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor 

If we could replace the MTA with everyone's favorite locamotive, chances are that New Yorkers would actually rather enjoy their commutes. In this animated movie, Thomas and his crew leave the Island of Sodor in search of their buddy James, proving the importance of strong friendships.

Photograph: Disney

5. Dumbo

The classic Disney tale answers the eternal question: ‘What if Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a flying baby elephant and had giant ears instead of a glowing schnoz?’ The story isn’t precisely the same, but the message is, which is that it’s okay to be different. Just be prepared to respond to nightmares about pink dancing pachyderms for years afterward. 

Elmo in Grouchland
Photograph: Sony Pictures Releasing

6. Elmo in Grouchland

Who doesn't love getting cozy at the end of a long day? We can't blame Elmo when he goes on a quest to the icky Grouchland to retreieve his blanket  – it's an essential item when you require some r&r. We're with ya, Elmo! 

Photograph: Disney

7. Frozen

We'll never let go of this Disney princess movie. Viewers everywhere fell in love with Anna and Elsa as they endured a never-ending winter (Snow Queen Elsa never let the cold bother her, anyway). We explored the ups and downs of sisterhood and belted out a few bops along the way. When Idina Menzel voices the main character, you can't help but sing along. 

Despicable Me
Photograph: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment

8. Despicable Me

This film trio of fun-loving animated goodness is irresistible. When a nefarious villain stumbles upon three orphan girls, his plans to steal the moon are put on hold for the new little ladies in his life who are determined to call him dad. 

  • Film
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This story about a grouchy ogre who lives in a swamp features all the fairy tale characters under the sun, colourful animation, an easy-to-follow plot, and jokes that will fly over little one’s heads but which the grown-ups will find funny.

Photograph: Disney Pixar

10. Cars

When this Pixar movie raced into theaters, it left its tire tracks on our automotive-loving hearts. Though Lightning McQueen meant to head to the Piston Cup Championship in the franchise's first film, we're grateful he loses his way and meets the likes of Doc Hudson, Mater and Sally. 

The Jungle Book
Photograph: Disney

11. The Jungle Book

It's not every day you come across a little boy who was raised by animals. Hang out with Mowgli as he stumbles upon the wonders of Monkey City while in search of the missing bracelet he received from his friend, Kitty. But what happens when Mowgli isn't the only one to discover Monkey City's treasures?

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While most Studio Ghibli films are often for much older children, this sweet and charming tale about two young sisters who befriend woodland spirits is brilliant for all ages. Not only is it a beautiful celebration of nature and sisterhood, but little ones will fall in love with the film’s cast of fantastical creatures.

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  • Animation

Children will fall head over heels in love with this delightful and energetic Disney Pixar movie about two monsters whose encounter with a young human named Boo changes the fate of the city of Monstropolis forever. Billy Crystal is particularly excellent as the voice of Mike Wazowski, a character so funny that you’ll be laughing no matter your age.

Toy Story
Photograph: Disney Pixar

14. Toy Story

Our love for Buzz and Woody soars to infinity and beyond. Drama ensues when little Andy replaces his beloved cowboy Woody with the space captain Buzz Lightyear, especially these toys come to life when Andy leaves the room. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Photograph: MGM

15. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This British musical will forever reign supreme on our list of best movies for kids. Truly Scrumptious can't resist Caractacus Potts and his two kids...or his family's wacky car, and we can't resist this classic. 

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