Leapster Vs. Nintendo DS for 5 Yo

Updated on July 18, 2012
K.B. asks from Detroit, MI
11 answers

My daughter turns 5 in a few weeks and told me she wants a Nintendo DS for her birthday. She's seen some other kids playing with them at her day care and has played with those belonging to friends the same age so now she wants one of her own. I was thinking before of doing a Leapster LeapPad because that's what another friend of mine got for her boys and another friend's son has a Leapster Explorer and she likes it better because she feels it's more educational content, while the DS is just games. Anyone have one or the other for their kid? What do you like or don't like about it and what would you recommend? TIA!

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So What Happened?

Also, looking on-line, what is the difference between DS, DSi, and 3DS?

ETA: Thanks for the info - looks like we are going with a DSi! And no worries, she gets plenty of learning from other sources - we read stories every night at bedtime, she goes to preschool, she'll be starting kindergarten at the end of next month already. Electronic games have never been on her radar until this year, and I figured it could be an okay thing if not overused.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I agree with get the DS. She will grow out of the Leapster to fast. The DS does have some educational games plus the Leapster is not all that educational anyway. May appear so but you can easily bypass the answers and just play the game.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

Go with a DS. The Leapster will be outgrown before you know it, as others have said.
There are more educational games you can get for the DS, and the plus is it will grow with your child-my 13 yo still plays his and he's had it since he was 7.
As for the differences:
DS lite-Regular DS. Screen size is smaller than the DSi XL, but it plays all the same games as the DSi XL. Less expensive by about $30, and will provide everything needed for a 5 yo.
DSi (or XL)-DSi has a bit more "interactive" components to it. (The XL is the same as DSi, only bigger screen). Most noteably, this can connect limitedly to a wifi connection, and it has a built-in digital camera. The bigger screen is a nice feature.
3DS-Plays the exclusive 3D games in actual 3D. Can also play all regular games by switching the switch on the side and playing in regular mode. There's been some reports that the 3D feature isn't good for some children's eyes, and/or neurological development. Yolu'll need to do your own research on that.
Hope that helps!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

**The differences is in the size of the screen and the gadget itself.
It is bigger etc.

Get a DS.
She is 5.
A Leapster will be grown out of, by then.
My kids had the Leapster, which they loved. But by 5 years old, they naturally grew out of it.

If you want educational things, yah, the Leapster has that.
Or an iPad.
But the DS has many games too.
Go to: www.gamestop.com and you can see all the games there and the reviews.

My daughter who is now 9, has the DS lite.
From my MIL.
And she and my 5 year old son, use it and like it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There are actually quite a range of educational games on the DS. I could see a 5 year old outgrowing a leapster in a year or two. With the DS, you can continue getting games, as she gets older. We have a DS, that we purchased almost 4 years ago. We still get games for it, without any problems. We bought an ABC's game, and a coloring game for my 3 year old. It's still screen time, anyway you look at it. She won't (hopefully) be just sitting around playing all the time. I could see more use coming out of a more mature system, like the DS. Just my opinion!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Leapster is more for pre-schoolers. A DS is more age appropriate, and she will be able to use it for years. With a DS she can play interactive games with her friends who also have DS's. There are a wide variety of games available for DS, including educational games. Both of my boys have a DS Lite, the basic model, and one just got a 3DS for his birthday, which is in 3D. The regular DS games operate on the 3DS, but 3DS games don't operate on a DS lite. I love the DS's for times when we have to wait in a dr's office, when I take them to a restaurant or on a long car trip.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would go with the Nintendo. My boys love theirs, they've had them for years, they are now 10 and 13. You can purchase games that would be more educational at first. The nice thing is that your kiddo won't grow out of it in 2 years, you'll be able to just by games more suitable for an older child. My 13 year old just left for Boy Scout camp on Saturday and over half the kids on the bus had thier Nintendos, you can't take a Leapster to Boy Scout camp!! LOL

Just my 2 cents.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

First, the DS is not just games. You can get all sorts of educational software, and we have the Dsi XL which has an awesome camera and photo editing software, which is a lot of fun.

I have experience with both. My oldest got a Leapster when she was 3, and adored it until she was six, when she had literally outgrown every game available for it. She was asking for more games for it for her seventh birthday...but when I showed her the few games left, she wasn't interested. They are targeted at younger children. We bought her the DS instead and she adores it.

(And one thing I've learned...let your children be educated in school, by you, at church, during conversations, etc...and let the games be for fun. I'm not against educational software...we have plenty...but sometimes fun ought to be just fun so that they can learn that LEARNING can be fun in it's own way. Otherwise they begin to think if they have to learn without a game, it's boring when really, it's not.)

Okay, a DS system is pretty old. A DSi can be hooked up wirelessly to the internet if you have that capability. A Dsi XL has a much larger screen (we really like that one best) and the 3DS is the newest system out. I don't recommend it because the 3D stuff isn't recommended for children, it's more expensive, and there are a TON of games available for the DS/DSi. We bought our DSiXL at a KMart and it came in a bundle with a free Mario game.

As far as games goes, there's a Magic School Bus Oceans game that's fun and educational, and we bought that. Do not buy "Farm Frenzy" because it is NOT meant for young children. Completely boring and hard.
My daughter loves all the Mario games, and we downloaded Oregon Trail of DSiWare for her...she loves it!!

That's another bonus...tons of downloadable games for the DSi. I bought a ten dollar card (straight over the DSi) and was able to download both Oregon Trail and a 5 in 1 Mahjong game.

I also bought a "game" that's really more of an e-reader program from Amazon, with 100 children's classics (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Wizard of Oz, various fairy tales, tons mroe) for six bucks. I thought that was a good deal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

We actually have both and I would suggest the DS. My daughter is 7 and is pretty close to outgrowing the leapster. You can get educational games for the DS as well! The DS can be used for years without outgrowing it...mu hubby plays it too!

We have the DSi. I truly don't know the difference between them other than I believe the 3DS is in 3D...personally, I would still pick the DSi over the others! My hubby knows all about these games systems...let me know if you have any other questions...he's always happy to help!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My son has the DSi xl. He's had is since the Christmas before he turned 5.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

My 5 year old got a dsi for Christmas she plays educational games on it too. Math and early reading she also plays hello kitty, my little pony, pinkalicious, i spy and monster high. The ds will not out grow her like the leap pad will.
The ds is the standard model. The dsi has bigger screens and the 3ds is 3d lol

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

This question came up in my house last Christmas. I ended up going with the Leapster Explorer for my daughter, who was 5 1/2 at the time. It was great at the beginning. But 6 months later, it is now her 2 1/2 year old brother who plays with it all the time. She plays with my iPod touch more than she does the leapster.

Therefore, I'd recommend going with the DS.

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