Raising a kid is a process of constant negotiation. Fortunately, all the bargaining chips you need can be found right on your smartphone. Here are the five best YouTube videos to bribe your little ones with.
The cool thing about toddlers is that they pretty much believe whatever you tell them (see: Santa Claus). And so my two-and-a-half-year-old son Emile now thinks a “movie” is a two-minute YouTube video on my iPhone. This is good because it gives him what he wants (something moving on a screen) and what I want (a limited amount of his time spent watching something moving on a screen).
It also gives me a bargaining chip. Toddlers are really big on negotiating, and it’s a helluva lot easier to convince them to, say, put on their pyjamas if you can offer them something, like a “movie,” in exchange.
Lately, Emile has been demanding movies that reflect whatever he happens to be wearing to bed, an ask that’s become increasingly difficult as he’s taken to mix-and-matching tops and bottoms. But these random requests have resulted in wonderfully weird YouTube mash-ups that make a pretty solid bribe for any tyke, even if they’re not dressed as a robot dinosaur for bed. (Though I must admit that, when I found a video with dinobots, the dubstep soundtrack put Emile off, seeing as how he’s way more of Robyn fan.)
“I Got Stripes!”—Johnny Cash With Droopy Dog
One would never normally type “stripes” into YouTube unless you were looking for a Bill Murray military comedy but, if you did, you may eventually come across this genius edit of Northwest Hounded Police, a 1946 Tex Avery cartoon with Droopy Dog as a mountie chasing an escaped convict wolf to the tune of Johnny Cash’s classic prisoner anthem “I Got Stripes.” The Man in Black would have loved it and so will your kid in striped PJs.
Muppets/Wizard of Oz medley
The Muppets actually made a full-length Wizard of Oz TV movie, but that was not the Jim Henson Company’s finest moment, what with really-non-actor Ashanti as the lead and try-too-hard cameos by the likes of Quentin Tarantino. Plus, they’d already spoofed the L. Frank Baum classic just fine in the 1981 TV special from which this clip originates, featuring Miss Piggy as Dorothy, Gonzo as Tin Woodman, Scooter as the Scarecrow and, of course, Fozzie the Bear as Fozzie the Cowardly Lion. The best part is it condenses several classic songs (and sight gags) into less than three minutes.
The Flaming Lips, “I Can Be a Frog”
Alt-rock’s most kid-friendly band made a pretty cool video for their most adorable song, but it doesn’t compare to the version they performed on Yo Gabba Gabba’s Super Music Friends Show segment, in which Wayne Coyne dresses up as a magic wand–waving Mad Hatter (natch) while the rest of the band, playing oversized instruments, dresses up in similarly silly outfits purloined from Mr Dressup’s Tickle Trunk. The Oklahoma icons are, of course, joined by giant dancing bears, monkeys, bumblebees, and the song’s titular frog. My son loves this almost as much as Foofa, Toodee, Plex, Muno, and Brobie seem to—which is a lot because, as DJ Lance always says, listening and dancing to music is awweesooommmee!
National Geographic Live!: Robot vs. Tiger
Not surprisingly, National Geographic has a ton of kid-centric content, but there’s something special about watching these majestic tigers try to suss out what the hell this camera-toting robot is all about. And while watching geeky photographer Steve Winter explain his ingenious scheme may bore your child, the video more than makes up for it with the amazing close-up pics the robot snaps of these ferocious felines.
World Premiere: 20 Nao Robots Dancing in Synchronized Harmony
Imma let “Single Robots (Put a Ring on It)” finish, but the France Pavillion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo made the best dancing-robot YouTube video of all time. This clip was shot in 2010 as the Aldebaran Robotics’ team of humanoid robots got their groove on to French composer Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.” If your kid is into robots at all—and most are—then this is more than worth its weight in iPhone data charges.