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How Much Screen Time OK for Your Baby or Toddler?

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
How Much Screen Time OK for Your Baby or Toddler?
This is a hot topic! Most parents have a guilt trip about the TV and their children. So I thought maybe it was time for a look at this contentious hot potato.

This topic came up at my recent Toddler Seminar.

toddler walking
I think it's important to look at my morals on TV as well! oh yes I love a veg out after work as part of a wind down and have had a guilty fix of spoon fed stuff like most of you.

When I worked in Manchester as a Health Visitor, a lot of babies and children were exposed to heaps of TV. They were often put in a bouncy chair and spent most of their day in front of the screen. Now that wasn't great but maybe there is a happy medium?

The current school of thought is that babies and children under 2 years old should have minimum exposure to TV and the maximum per day for a 2-5 year old should be around half an hour. It's best if that is age appropriate content.

Now, I live in the real world and I know a lot of parents are going to allow their babies and children to watch TV so maybe it's important to look at age appropriate choices.

My fave for babies and toddlers are things like the ABC/BBC kids programme, "In the Night Garden' or Baby Motzart.

In the Night Garden looks at issues from a baby/child's perspective so enhances learning. It uses cognitive problem solving such as the search for the lost blanket and it teaches good health messages such as tooth brushing and good sleep habits.

A family I know use baby Motzart to help get through bath time. Without baby Motzart their baby yells and makes bath time very unpleasant. And with it bath time is a breezze and really enjoyable for all.

I think it's important to monitor and supervise TV watching and be present with your baby/child. That way interaction and potential learning can take place.

If this does not occur then there is potential for mis-reading of what is on the screen. It is thought that TV watching changes the way the brain's synapses work and learning occurs! Big Stuff. There has been links to ADHD from too much TV watching.

This also occurs with computers and tablet pc's.

Just last week I had a little baby on my knee at the GP's while mum had a consult in peace with the GP. Because I was sat in front of the screen the baby was glued to the screen and not me, despite my best efforts at interaction. It was like the screen was a magnet for his eyes! Amazing to see, but in a sort of not good way.

There has also been a link between poor night time sleep and screen use. So maybe think about not using TV or tablet or computer sreens in the 2 hour bedtime wind down time from 5pm. The researchers found a reduction in serotonin, the feel good hormone and melatonin, the hormone that regulates and promotes sleep. Something to think about...

And here's a new guideline from the WHO who are literally saying no to screen time under 12 months.

The World Health Organisation issued strict new guidelines on one of the most anxiety-producing issues of 21st Century family life: How much should parents resort to videos and online games to entertain, educate or simply distract their young children?

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