Top Ten Mobile Games to Play while Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This is not an article exclusively for breastfeeding moms. I wrote this because of my personal experience with breastfeeding (I breastfed and supplemented with formula). But my sincere hope is that all of you out there who feed your babies whatever wonderful way you choose, read and enjoy this post. These are great games to play while breastfeeding or bottle feeding, or rocking a baby to sleep or any of the other times when you have one free hand and some time to spend playing a game.

Breastfeeding is wonderful, and hard, and messy, and special, and – dare I say it – sometimes… BORING. Am I right?! We’re good enough friends for me to admit that, I think.

Those first few weeks were beyond tough. I could have used six arms: one to hold the baby, another to help with the latch, one for massage to encourage let-down, another to readjust the Boppy… We had trouble getting started. I had supply issues. My daughter had difficulty latching. There were a lot of nights with both of us crying at 2 am. I really wanted to breastfeed, but I wasn’t sure it was going to work. I was supplementing with formula and about ready to switch over completely. But then, right when I was ready to throw in the towel, things clicked. My daughter and I hit our groove. It got easier. Not easy, mind you! There was still cluster feeding and pumping at work and middle-of-the-night wake-ups to contend with.

Speaking of nighttime feedings, if you use an iPhone in a dark room with your little one in your arms, read until the end for a tip that will absolutely change your life. I use it every single day now, and I love it.

My toddler weaned at 12 months on the dot, and I miss that special time between us. Especially the last evening feeds. I went back to work when she was 3-months-old, and I would spend the day pumping and counting down the minutes until she was back in arms. I’d cradle her, sing to her, and tell her about my day. But there were still times when I needed a few minutes to zone out and relax, and honestly I think sometimes she needed that too. She’d give me that look, the one that says “Please, mama. No more singing.”

There are also late night feeds, when you try to be as boring as possible out of fear that your little ones will realize how great it is after the sun goes down and want to stay up all night. Not sure how well it works, because I can promise that I am a very, very boring person at 4 am, but my daughter didn’t consistently sleep through the night until she was 17-months-old. A post for another time maybe. Today’s post is all about ways to entertain yourself for 10–30 minute chunks of time while your baby is noshing. Some moms read or watch TV, but I’m a sucker for a good game. I had a pretty long list of criteria, so it took me a while to find my favorite games. I hope sharing this list means that you can find a few to enjoy too.

My criteria:

  • Portrait-mode and one thumb to play. Even at peak breastfeeding mastery, I still needed a hand to hold my baby. There are tons of other great Landscape games out there, like Agent A, .projekt, SimCity Buildit, and Plague Inc. If you are more talented than me, definitely check those out too.
  • Easy to pick up and put down. No one wants to switch sides and miss a cut-scene.
  • Simple. At midnight, I wasn’t going to be able to follow a detailed plot. I wanted basic but fun games. Maybe even slightly repetitive. But, I also wanted to be building towards some big goal.
  • No sound-based puzzles/story, because I mostly played on mute. Dig around in those settings to mute the sounds and turn off vibrate.
  • Limited or no ads. If there were too many ads interrupting gameplay, I got frustrated (looking at you, KleptoCats).
  • Free or minimal cost. All my money was going to that adorable ball of drool and snuggles.

With all that in mind, now it’s time for my…

Top Ten Mobile Games to Play while Breastfeeding

10. 10 Billion Wives

Developer: Masukachi Inc.
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Simulation
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: Small banner ad at the bottom, occasional full-screen ads at start or during play, often when you try and buy or upgrade something but don’t have enough Love (this’ll make sense in a sec)

Review: 10 Billion Wives is a mindless tap tap tap tap tap tap tap game. The kind of thing described by some as a series of advertisements masquerading as a game. And I honestly can’t disagree. The only action required from you is to tap the screen, and that’s optional. But it turns out that this is exactly the sort of thing I needed in those early months as a new mom, and maybe that’ll be true for you too. In 10 Billion Wives, you earn Love points that you can spend on gifts for your current wife… or to buy new wives. The more wives you have the faster you accrue Love. I feel like all the polygamy and buying women should probably bother me on a moral level, but oddly, it doesn’t. Having a kid has made me more sensitive in some ways (read: sobbing at the start of Finding Nemo), but this game is mind-numbing enough to keep me from thinking about it too deeply. Sometimes you just want to buy a hair bow and a cup a rice for your wives while they run around in front of you. Maybe you even want to fantasize that you do have 10 Billion Wives to help, because after you have a baby you definitely have 10 Billion Chores. While you’re watching your many wives race around, you can tap the screen to earn LPT (Love per Tap), on top of the LPS (Love per Second) you earn based on your unlocked wives and their levels/gifts. Click on the Wives tab to start upgrading and giving presents. I enjoyed unlocking the Secret Illustrations (available for each wife at level ~120). I also really liked that you keep earning Love while you’re signed out. So every time you log in, you’ve got plenty to spend. Seeing which new wife I’d unlock next was enough to keep me coming back, and enough to earn 10 Billion Wives the tenth spot on my list. The advertisements were small and infrequent enough that I didn’t feel like a revenue-generating robot. The game gets a bit slow towards the end; it takes a long time to earn Love to level up and buy gifts for the last three wives. This might go from being a daily log-in to something less frequent at that point.

Pro-tip: In the Achievement tab, when you meet an objective, you’ll need to click the orange box to reap the reward (a boost to LPT). “Submit MR” means how many times you’ve tapped the screen.

9. Cat Condo

Developer: Zepni
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Simulation
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: Only when you click “Watch an Ad” to upgrade a cat

Review: Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Why am I reading an article about gaming by someone who clearly doesn’t know the difference between a glorified advertisement and an actual video game?” Bear with me! I promise the list gets better from here, but I also truly believe that 10B Wives and Cat Condo belong at spots 10 and 9. Remember my criteria above, and think about the type of game you want to be playing during your kid’s midnight snack. Don’t lie, you know these are perfect. Plus, you can actually play Cat Condo without watching a single ad. There are no ads at start-up, and none that pop-up while you’re playing. You always have the choice to watch an ad. It’s not required but does speed things up. But if you’re aiming to breastfeed for months and months, you won’t need any help speeding things up. I took it nice and slow, and after over a year with Cat Condo I have come so far.

In Cat Condo, you start with a small cat tree and every 10 seconds, a cat carrier will appear on a ledge. Click it and out pops an adorable white kitten. When you have two white starter kittens, drag them into each other to fuse them into a larger gray Kitten. Two gray Kittens become a Sneaky Cat. The more you combine, the higher level cats you’ll unlock, all the way up to cat #40. You’ll also unlock new levels to your cat tree. For those doing the math, cat #40, the pinnacle cat, contains 549,755,813,888 white starter kittens. And I have 3 of the max-level cats, meaning 1.649e12 (we’ve hit irrational numbers and natural logs and my brain hurts). Luckily, Cat Condo doesn’t require that we do that kind of math. It just asks that we click and drag cats together, and then click and drag and click and drag some more. I haven’t actually opened that many carriers either, because there are bonuses that give us a jump up the ladder. Surprise Boxes appear sometimes instead of regular cat carriers, and they give a random higher level cat (you can watch an ad to bump it up a few more levels also at random). I’m level 39 now, meaning I have 39 tiers in my cat tree, and as I mentioned I’ve unlocked cat #40. Most of my Surprise Boxes are usually around cat #10-16. You can also buy cats from the Cat Store to help you skip ahead too. Your current cats will earn you coins that you can spend in the store (found at the bottom right in the box with a house that says “Cat”). You earn coins while you’re logged out, but only up to a point. At first, Cat Condo seems to be the perfect game for “diamond” players, like me. (If you aren’t familiar with the Bartle taxonomy of player types, check out my article here.) There are trophies for tapping, buying cats, opening carriers, and fusing cats. But the requirements are insane. For example, I have to buy 10,000 cats, but the cost keeps going up. I did some more math, and I’ll need at least 45,476,750q coins. I don’t know if the q is quadrillion or quintillion at this point, so that is either 46 octillion or 46 nonillion coins to buy these cats. I don’t mind a grind, but that’s ridiculous. It hurts my heart to not be able to get these trophies. But, on the flip side, I get a huge amount of satisfaction from knowing that every cat I yanked out of a carrier is still on my board, just rolled up into a higher level cat. None of the cats are gone, they have just become something more, greater, bigger than themselves. There’s a beautiful metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m too sleep deprived to figure it out.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget to grab your free cat by clicking on the gold box in the top corner of the store. These Gift boxes are available every two hours and are usually a higher level than Surprise Boxes (cat #14-20).

8. Topsoil

Developer: Nico Prins
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: 3 (+3 lives every 24 hours)
Ads: +3 lives for watching an ad

Review: In Topsoil, you are the farmer of the world’s tiniest plot of land. And rather than specializing in one type of plant, you’ve decided to grow crops and flowers and trees and mushrooms. Maybe not your best decision, but it does make for a fun little puzzle game. Per the developer, your goal is to harvest as many plants as you can before you run out of space. If you place plants of the same time next to each other, then you’ll harvest them together (and get a chain bonus). The art is simple but pleasing. I am in love with the wheat stalks and the adorable little birds that mean extra points (maybe that’s why I like them so much). There’s even a battery saver option which I turned on, but my phone says my battery life is “Service” so it’s hard for me to tell if there’s an impact. Topsoil is a great go-to when you want a game to engage your brain but not hurt it. And it saves your progress, so at any time you can close the game and come back to it – a huge plus in my book! I’ve seen some complaints about only having 3 lives/day. And I agree that it’s a bit stingy, especially when you’re learning to play and losing frequently. But as you get better, games last longer, and I found myself with a backlog of lives that I never used. My all-time high score is 1,369, which took a lot of planning and a little luck. Anyone else play? What’s your best?

Pro-tip: Your first objective should be to get the garden to the same soil color and keep it there. This will open up more options for you to plant your incoming crops. Say it with me: Blue to yellow to green to blue to yellow to green to blue… Next, don’t be scared of the undo button. You should be using it all the time. When you reach the trowel and it’s time to harvest, you’ll see your next set of plants. Knowing what’s coming means you can and probably should undo your last plant and place it more strategically. And lastly, mushrooms are your new best friends. I hate mushrooms in real life but this game almost has me liking them. Mushrooms don’t need to be harvested with the trowel, they grow and disappear on their own, but they also don’t turn the soil when they disappear. I put mushrooms on squares that have wound up alone (for example, a yellow square surrounded by blue spaces) so that the surrounding area will catch up around the time when the mushroom clears, which goes back to my first tip about keeping the soil the same color. Blue to yellow to green to blue to yellow to green.

7. Pocket City

Developer: Bobby Li/Codebrew Games
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Simulation
Cost: US $3.99
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: None

Review: You might have noticed something a little different about Pocket City- this is the only app I paid for. I think it was worth it. In Pocket City, you are the mayor of a tiny town surrounded by lots of land begging to be developed. You build residential, commercial, and industrial zones, and there’s a handy bar chart in the top left corner to let you know what you need more of. You’ll earn experience points for building and completing objectives. As you go, you’ll unlock resource and service buildings, like power plants and hospitals. There are also roads and highways. Roads move people and water/electricity. Highways improve traffic but don’t transport resources like power and water. As with most city simulation games, Pocket City is about finding balance. A good goal for new moms, right? When things are going well, I love it. But then thing would go wrong. Sometimes my money increased like crazy, sometimes I lost more money than I made. So much upkeep. It’s like real-life homeownership. For some reason, these fluctuations disappeared around level 35. From then on, I was in money making mode. I enjoyed a lot about this game: unlocking new buildings, finding treasure chests, fighting crime. There’s nothing mind-blowing about Pocket City but it’s a solid little gameplay experience.

Pro-tip: Throw Events as often as possible to earn experience points. Also, it took me a bit to realize this, but the maximum cash you can store depends on the bank. I upgraded my bank to the highest level I could at that time and played like that for some time before realizing you can build more than one bank. Don’t be like me. You can build more than one bank.

6. KenKen Classic

Developer: KenKen Puzzle LLC
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: 50 free games, and then you have to buy more
Ads: A full-screen ad occasionally plays between games

Review: KenKen means Wisdom Wisdom, and I definitely feel like this app makes me smarter. And my post-pregnancy mom brain needed the kick-start. The best was to describe KenKen is to compare it to another puzzle: KenKen is math Sudoku. Your goal is to fill in the squares with numbers that satisfy the math equations without repeating the same number within a row or column. If that sounds confusing, I promise the game makes a lot more sense when you play. The difficulty starts out low, 3×3 grids using only numbers 1, 2, and 3. You can select the type of equations you want to solve: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division. Start with a 3×3 addition only and you’ll be feeling like a certified Mensa brainiac. Then switch over to the 9×9 grid with multiplication and division, and prepare to feel like a hamster listening to a lecture by Stephen Hawkings. Also prepare to bust out the calculator sometimes (why can I not find 3 numbers that multiply to 210?!?). While there is no cost to start, there are a limited number of free puzzles to play before you have to pay to unlock more.

Pro-tip: Use the green and pink post-it notes to track possible and impossible options for each square. It makes all the difference for those bigger grids.

5. Neko Atsume

Developer: Hit-Point Co.
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Board game
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: No. There are ads in the Menu if you click the cat in the top corner of the News page that you can watch if you want

Review: Neko Atsume was a huge hit when it came out in 2014. I’m not aware of another mobile game that has inspired magnets, mugs, stuffed animals, and even a film adaptation. Unless you count Pokémon, which technically was big before Pokémon Go, although I guess one could argue that the popularity of Pokémon Go probably helped with the decision to make Detective Pikachu. Off topic. Back to cats! Neko Atsume hits all the right notes for a repetitive but fun collector game. You start with a small space and a few toys to entice cats to visit. Fish are currency. Cats will gift you with fish if they stop by to hang at your house. Most cats toss out a few silver fish, but rare cats will give more silver fish and maybe even gold fish. You then spend those fish on new toys and more food. You can even buy an expansion to your house to make it possible for even more cats to visit at the same time. More expensive food and toys will attract rarer cats. When a cat visits, you’ll get an entry in your Catbook documenting them, and you can take photos for your Album. If a cat visits enough, they might drop a Momento- a special little gift from them to you. My goal in Neko Atsume was to unlock all of the cats and gifts. I’ve been playing for years but I’m still missing a few cats. There are some cats that will only show up if you have a particular item out, so either you stumble upon it, or you use a player guide. I’ve hit the point where I probably need to look a few of these up, but I’m in now rush. I enjoy logging in every so often to see who’s hanging out. Now that I’ve stacked up 100s of visits from some cats, I feel like walking into the bar in Cheers: “Norm!”

Pro-tip: If you enter the Daily Password (Menu > News > Daily Password in the sign at the top), you’ll get some bonus silver/gold fish and cat food. Also, once you’ve expanded your house, don’t use expensive cat food outside. Tubbs, the adorable chunky kitty, will clear the bowl in no time flat, and he only visits the outside food bowl.

Bonus pro-tip: You can convert silver fish to gold fish and vice versa, but this is my one complaint about the game: 500 silver fish will give you 10 gold fish, but 10 gold fish only give you 250 silver fish. Come on, Hit-Point, why?? There were so many times I meant to buy gold fish only to accidently convert 10 gold fish to 250 silver. My fatigued brain had such a hard time understanding what I was spending and what I was buying. My advice is look really hard at which button you’re pressing and make sure it’s right since they aren’t equivalent conversion and there’s no undo button.

4. Bonza

Developer: Minimega Pty Ltd
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: You can watch an ad for a hint

Review: Bonza is a crossword puzzle with no clues and no grid. If that sounds hard, don’t worry- it’s not too bad. Sometimes you get one clue. For example, one of the recent games I played gave me the clue “Babies,” and all of the words in the puzzle had to do with babies, like diapers and pacifier. You move letter blocks around (usually 2-3 letter chunks) to form words vertically and horizontally that intersect like a crossword puzzle. There’s a free Daily puzzle, which are often user submitted and can be a little questionable. Winning the daily puzzle will net you 5 gold coins. You can buy more puzzles, Showcase Packs are 220 gold coins, Jumbo Packs are 1000 coins, Guest Designer Packs are 550 and Classic Packs are $0.99 real monies. A Showcase Pack, what I ususally unlock, contains 30 or so puzzles, so you can earn back about 150 coins. Usually by the time I finish a Showcase Pack, I have enough coins to buy the next one (thanks to the coins from the free Daily puzzles too). Bonza is Australian for “excellent,” and this game is bonza.

Pro-tip: Don’t feel bad about using the internet to help when you really don’t know a topic. Once I had a puzzle about Australian capitals, and I’m not ashamed to admit I didn’t know a single one other than Sydney. (Okay, I’m a little ashamed… but thanks to the world wide web, I know now all about Brisbane and Adelaide.)

3. 2048 by Gabriele Cirulli

Developer: Gabriele Cirulli
Platform: iOs, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: An occasional full-screen ad pops up into between rounds

Review: In 2048, your goal is to combine blocks to form larger numbers, up to the coveted 2,048. You swipe to send a block contain the number 2 sailing into another 2 block and they become 4, 4 and 4 become 8, and so on. Every time you swipe, a new block is created in an empty square, either a 2 or a 4. For me, this game scratches the same itch as Cat Condo. There’s a satisfaction in taking little things and rolling them up into something bigger. 2048 ends when you fill all the squares on the board and don’t have two identical blocks together, meaning that you can no longer swipe to combine blocks. This game combines mindless swiping with the occasional surge in brain power to get yourself out of a corner. And like Topsoil, it’s all about keeping options open. The game saves your progress which is perfect for when baby needs something and you’ve got to switch the screen off. And even after you reach 2,048 you can keep going, so it doesn’t end until you’re out of options.

Pro-tip: Work in the same direction as much as possible. My strategy was to swipe right over and over again until I couldn’t any more, then swipe up once, and then go back to swiping right again and again. This meant that I always had the option of moving left or down if it came to last resorts. You might also want to change some of the settings. Click on the yellow box with the game name in, and switch Swipe Mode to Normal. I found that the Expert option registered swipes I didn’t actually do, and a few wrong swipes can really mess up a game (thank you, Undo button).

2. Board Kings

Developer: Jelly Button
Platform: iOs, Android
Genre: Board game
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: N/A
Ads: Usually 2-3 pop-ups advertising in-app purchases when you start the game that you can close immediately. Watch an ad to get a random Chance card

Review: Board Kings was one of the top games of 2018 and I can understand why. You roll dice to move around your board and earn coins. You then spend said coins upgrading buildings until you level up. Then you collect bricks and when you have enough, you move to the next board. Repeat ad nauseam. The number of rolls you have and how quickly you accrue them depends on your level. For example, I’m level 43, and I earn 6 rolls every hour up to a max of 80. You can also earn gems that can be spent on more rolls, buying new games pieces. There’s tons to upgrade, what with new boards, new pieces, and landmarks you can drop on top of buildings to give you special items. Plus the game is always running special events where you fight bosses or collect cards to earn more coins and more rolls that you can use to earn more coins that you can spend on more buildings that can unlock new levels that need more rolls and more coins to level up. Ummm. If it sounded like a lot, it kind of is. There’s also an element where other players can travel by train to your board and steal coins from you. But you’ll do it to other people too. All’s fair in love and Board Kings.

Pro tip: Because of the money-stealing element, try not to leave the game with money unspent. Use your gems if you can to make up the last little bit to upgrade a building. If you leave money, assume it’ll be stolen by the time you log in again. And on that same note, be okay with that. Once you’re a few levels in, you’ll be stealing millions and millions, and people will take that much from you.

1. Two Dots

Developer: Playdots, Inc.
Platform: iOS, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Cost: Free (In-App Purchases)
Lives/Refills: 5 (1 every 20 min)
Ads: You can watch an ad for items or lives

Review: Two Dots is a puzzle game that is a great way to spend 15-20 minutes. Your board will consistent of a bunch of small colorful dots. You create lines with dots of the same color to clear them. You can also make squares clear all dots of that same color across the board. If you trap, dots within squares they turn into little bombs. Ice, fire, and sand dots all do different things to your board, and can be dealt with by clearing adjacent blocks. Every time I log in, there’s a new element, like monster dots and flower dots. The game does a great job introducing each type and showing you how they work. The progression feels natural, although there are clearly levels designed to be extremely challenging in order to encourage in-app purchase of booster items that make your life a bit easier. I managed to get pretty far without having to buy anything, although in the end I enjoyed this game so much that I am considering making a purchase to support them. The map of the world has gorgeous artwork, that I loved seeing as I unlocked each new stage. There are also tons of levels. I’m not lying. A literal ton of levels. As of this article, there were 1,960 different levels, and they’re always adding more. That’ll keep you busy for years of extended breastfeeding.

Pro-tip: Make the biggest squares you can. So many little bombs.

There it is. My Top Ten. The games I loved while breastfeeding. Most of them, I still play today even though I stopped breastfeeding almost a year ago. I hope you find a new favorite in the list, and if you have any other suggestions, leave a comment below.

As promised, here’s the life-changing tip: A way to darken your iPhone screen more than you ever thought possible. We all know we can adjust the brightness of our screens, but when you are trying to rock a baby to sleep even that lowest setting is enough to light up the whole room. The difference is insane and makes it so much easier to use your phone, without disturbing your little one (or your partner when you’re in bed, or the people in your carpool who are trying to sleep). Seriously I use this all the time. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open Settings
  • General > Accessibility > Zoom
  • Enable Zoom
    • Don’t freak out if you can only see part of your screen now, after all we did just turn on something called Zoom
  • Set the Zoom Region to Full Screen
  • Double tap (or triple tap for older model phones) the screen with 3 fingers (sometimes it takes a few tries to get this right)
  • Select Zoom Filter
  • Select Low Light
  • Press the on/of button on the side (or the Home circle button for older model iPhones) 3 times in a row quickly to enable/disable Zoom
  • Enjoy your new extra-dark screen

Amazing, right?

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