When it comes to family gaming, the Nintendo Switch is a great system, bringing with it a variety of games your kids will love from educational options to more intense action games. While the Switch has some of the smallest controllers in the video game world right now with the Joy-Cons, they can be expensive to replace if something were to happen to them. There are many options that are more affordable, sturdier, and even smaller so that they will still be comfortable in tiny hands. Here are the best Switch controllers for kids.
All expected functions
With the TNE Wireless Pro Controller, the buttons have the same layout as the familiar Joy-Cons and the official Pro Controller. With the LED light bar for the battery, you won't have to worry about your kid losing their controller mid-game. It has four lights to indicate how full the battery is and it's made to last for 10 hours between charges, using the same type of cable as the Nintendo Switch console. This light controller is even made with an anti-scratch and anti-slip material to give it extra protection against damage.
Quick charge and playful colors
As far as third-party Nintendo Switch controller brands go, 8Bitdo is one of the best choices. This tiny but mighty option charges in just two hours and gives you eight hours of play between charging. It also comes with a one-year free return/replacement guarantee and can be used for mobile, Apple, and PC games. It comes in three cute pastel colors that match those of the Switch Lite systems. The downside of playing with this controller is the lack of joysticks.
This officially licensed HORIPAD Mini wired controller was made specifically to be a smaller size. It has all the same buttons as the Joy-Cons, is easy to get a grip on, and comes in designs that feature your kids' favorite characters. You will want to make sure the area you have the Switch set up in will be safe for a wired controller, with enough space for it to be plugged in with the cable. There are some downsides to this controller though; kids will not be able to connect amiibo, use motion controls, or feel the rumble features.
This flat and wide controller may be a good option for smaller kids who are playing more relaxing, educational games — the opposite of the very interactive The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For this type of chill gaming, this is an affordable option. Or, if your kid does end up wanting to use this for more intense gaming, there are customizable turbo buttons. However, one thing to keep in mind: although this controller does have split D-pads, it does not have the joysticks. If you're looking to have more range of motion offered by the mobility of a joystick you may need a different controller.
This adorable bear of a controller is made with comfort in mind. The curves along the back of the controller make it easy for small hands to grip while playing for up to eight hours on a full charge. It even utilizes the wake-up function on the Switch when activated so the system will automatically turn on and to the proper channel without assistance. This is a function you can change on your Switch if you see that being more of a problem than a positive feature. There aren't home or screen capture buttons but the rest of the controls are all accounted for. Plus, the cuteness of this design is almost unbearable.
This set of third-party Joy-Cons comes in pink or black and has a cute panda design. Just like the original Joy-Cons, these can be operated together or separately as two. To help with the safety and preservation of the controllers, they are made with non-slip ABS and coated with a scratch-resistant top layer. These have motion controls and vibration so your little one will get all the same immersion they would with the original controllers. The controller can be plugged into the Switch for handheld mode, held individually, or placed into the included M-shaped controller base.
For the curious
Made to be mini, this controller has lots of cute cartoon design options. The clear shell is a fun way for curious kids to see all the inner pieces of the controller and start to think about how they work. With eight feet of cable, you should have enough to get some room between the Switch and the controller. This is an officially licensed controller that is sure to sit perfectly in tiny hands.
If buying a whole new controller isn't in your plan, there is a way to use the Joy-Cons differently. Slide the Joy-Cons right into this comfort grip and it makes the pair function like a traditional controller. This is good for parents who may be concerned about losing the Joy-Cons. With this option, you can even mix and match with different grip designs. This grip also comes with a two-year limited warranty in case you run into any problems.
A little fun is in your hands
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Introducing kids to video games can be fun, and now it's easier to make it more comfortable and accessible too. This can change a child's experience and save you a lot of money by not replacing controllers. These are just a few of your choices when you're looking into getting your child set up for video games. While you're doing this you may also want to consider picking up a good protective case and some of the best Nintendo Switch accessories, including a screen protector.
Our favorite pick for controllers is the TNE Wireless Pro controller because it has the most similar functionality to the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller without the price or cords. If cords aren't an issue for you and your child would have fun choosing a cool design, the PDP Rock Candy Mini Ergonomic Wired Controller has a lot of options.
For beginners, the flat back and simple button structure of the 8Bitdo Lite Bluetooth Gamepad make it much easier to start gaming. Not to mention the wireless capability takes away the stress of having to worry about the Switch crashing down from on top of the entertainment center. There are a lot of varying factors to consider when it comes to what is right for your children, but these are some of the best options out there for Switch controllers for kids.
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Alex has been working with iMore as a Freelance Gaming Writer for three years. You can also find a few articles of hers on Android Central and Windows Central. She regularly covers Nintendo Switch games and accessories as well as iOS game apps. In addition to the Nintendo Switch, you may also find her playing on the PlayStation and PC. When she doesn’t have a controller in hand she likes to spend her time with her husband, son, and dogs, exploring new places, or hiding away with a book (or comic book). A few of her favorite games include the Zelda franchise, Little Nightmares, and Animal Crossing.
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