12/23/2011 12:10 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2012

Apps To Keep Children Happy While Traveling

WITH Christmas upon us and New Year's just around the bend, many families are contending with long road trips and crowded flights. All those hours in the car and at the airport are bound to bring out tantrums in toddlers, squabbles among siblings and the familiar "I'm bored" from tweens.

To help stave off meltdowns and keep the children entertained, I asked a range of experts, from professional toy-reviewers to travel-savvy mothers, for the best apps for iPads and iPhones. As a parent who is prone to guilt attacks when my own daughter spends too much time in front of a screen, no matter what its size, my aim was to find that sweet spot that falls somewhere between the ruthless thrill of hurling birds at pigs and the rigor of dividing fractions. I've also thrown in some unplugged options. Below are top picks organized by age.