Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions

Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions | Baby Chick

Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions

When it comes to TV, movies, games, apps, and general screen time for your little one, how much is OK, what kind is best, and when do you introduce everything?

Next to formula vs. breastfeeding, the amount of screen time to give infants and toddlers has to be one of the most controversial issues new parents face. On one side are the hard-liners: No screens for kids under 2! On the other are those who just say, “Why not?”

If you’re one of the many new parents who are confused and worried about screen media, take heart. Much of what you’ve probably heard — that any screen time is bad — isn’t supported by research. That said, what’s best for babies — interactions with loving caregivers, the ability to explore their worlds, and exposure to language — can’t be replaced by a screen. As with most things, the answers lie somewhere in the middle. Here’s the definitive guide to managing movies, TV, the Internet, apps, games, and more.

How much screen time is really OK for babies under 2?

Some parents worry that exposing their kids to any TV or screen time could be damaging. Take it from us; a little bit of media isn’t gonna hurt. We simply encourage parents to limit time with screen media for kids under 3 or to use media as a means of furthering and cementing your relationship with them. The most important thing is that time spent with screens don’t replace time spent with their loving caregiver. Try the ideas below in small amounts — say, 15 or 30 minutes.

  • Explore new words, ideas, sounds, and pictures online.
  • Show kids a photo of themselves and name parts of their face.
  • Scroll through all your pictures, name the people, and talk about them.

Does FaceTime or Skype with Grandma count as screen time?

Video-chatting with a grandparent is a great way to build cross-generational relationships or bond with a relative who’s away. If you’re counting screen-time minutes, video-chatting should be excluded. It’s really no different from talking to a family member on the phone (and it’s actually easier to involve babies and toddlers since they can respond to facial expressions better than verbal language alone).

Is it OK to keep the TV on when I’m with my baby?

This is risky. Role modeling healthy media habits is important. So-called “background TV” can lead to fewer interactions with your child and less conversation, both of which have real impact on kids’ development. The images and tone of what’s on the screen are problematic, too. Infants sense emotions and experiences in a very real way, whether from their mothers or from actors on the screen. If you need to keep the TV on, mute the commercials, avoid mature content, and make an effort to talk and play with baby as much as possible.

My baby has a tantrum if I don’t let her use my iPhone for screen time.

Respond as you would for any other tantrum and use your normal consequences. If handing over the phone has become a habit, it’ll take some time to curb her outbursts. Transition into using the phone together — such as showing her photos of herself or watching short videos together — so she’ll get used to it being a shared experience. And begin to show her how you use the phone as a tool — not a treat. As with everything else she wants and can’t have, she’ll develop the ability to self-soothe with your help. At some point, she’ll understand “Mama’s phone” and can learn how to ask for it politely.

My baby loves screen time to watch short videos of kittens and puppies online. Is that OK?

If you’re enjoying them together and keeping your viewing sessions fairly limited (those videos tend to draw you in for longer than planned), it sounds just fine. Your baby is enjoying the closeness with you as much as the videos.

Extend the experience by visiting a neighbor with a friendly dog, getting books on baby animals, and practicing all the animal noises you can think of. At this age, you want to make media a shared experience and an opportunity for learning.

What should I know before showing my toddler her first TV show?

First, consider whether she has the attention span to watch a full show. Many series designed for the youngest viewers break shows into 10- or 15-minute segments. Start with a single segment of a show and see how engaged she is. If she’s riveted, you can try a 30-minute show. You have literally thousands of options. Find a subject she likes, determine a limit (one show, two shows?), and watch together if you can.

Which TV shows are best for very young children?

TV shows that are short, gentle, have positive messages, and are ad-free (ideally) are best for young kids. They enjoy programs with very simple messages they can relate to (such as getting dressed in the morning). Keep these tips in mind:

  • Many half-hour shows, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, actually contain several shorter segments you can start with.
  • Avoid scary stuff, explosions, people yelling, and cartoon violence.
  • Look for shows with positive messages, such as the value of being a good friend.
  • Do what you can to limit commercial exposure — kids absorb those messages like a sponge.

If I’m restricting screen media, what can I do to occupy my kid while I take a break?

It can be exhausting building blocks, playing dolls, and digging in the sandbox all day with your toddler. Here are some ideas to help kids occupy themselves, so you can put up your feet (or get dinner started):

  • Listen to music.Young kids love to shake, shake, shake to all kinds of beats and sounds. Encourage kids to move and shake to the music and to make sounds themselves.
  • Have them “read” books.Just the act of holding books and flipping pages can prime kids for a future love of reading. They can pretend they’re reading to a stuffed animal.
  • Play audiobooks.The act of hearing helps with language acquisition, imagination, and critical listening skills. Set up a comfy space where your child can play with blocks or dolls while listening to an age-appropriate story.

Is it OK to take my baby to the movie theater?

Infants are too young to understand the action on the screen, but the environment could be overstimulating. Also, cinema-quality sound systems are really loud and could be too intense for little ones.

If you want to give the theater a try, sit in the quietest seat and be prepared to leave if things take a bad turn. You might be lucky enough to live near one of those theaters designed for families, or your local theater might host a mom-and-dad’s night where they turn the sound down and the lights up to make it more baby-friendly.

Should I limit my phone use when I’m with baby?

You may be craving adult conversation and connection — or maybe you need to work from home while watching the baby. The most important thing is to make sure you’re keeping an eye on him; there have been instances of kids hurting themselves because their parents were distracted by their phones.

Young kids learn best through nurturing relationships with caregivers and loved ones, so make sure your phone use doesn’t interfere. Talk, play, hug, and make eye contact with infants as much as possible. Use screens in service of relationship-building (showing a photo of grandma) or to occupy yourself while the baby is sleeping on top of you.

What can I say to family and friends with more lenient screen-time rules?

Everyone has different screen-time rules. It can be tough to talk about because you don’t want to come off as judgmental — or maybe you just don’t want to start a conflict. But if your kid is going to be spending a significant amount of time with kids whose parents have different rules, it is absolutely within your right — and your kid’s best interest — to explain what you’re comfortable with. Soften the blow by saying, for example, “I know I turn into a control freak when it comes to media, but it’s really important to me, and since I know our kids will be friends for a long time, I want you to know where I’m coming from.”

Sometimes bending your own rules for the benefit of social harmony is the way to go, but only you can make that call.

Here are some of the key issues to discuss, especially as your kid gets older:

  • Time limits.State your preference. Say, “I’m OK with the kids watching a movie, but I’d like them to play on their playdate, too.”
  • Tell the parents that your kid is frightened by scary stuff and that you have a particular “thing” about him watching shows or playing games with potentially frightening images.
  • How close of an eye do the other parents keep on the kids — especially when the kids are on the Internet? Ask if they have content filters installed on their search engines.
  • Multiplayer games.Find out if the other kids in the house play multiplayer games. If your kid isn’t familiar with them, ask if multiplayer can be turned off until he gets the hang of the game. Make sure to talk to your kid about playing online games responsibly and respectfully.
  • Tech-free zones.Keep family and social gatherings tech-free. Recharge devices overnight — outside your kid’s bedroom to help them avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep, all critical for kid’s wellness.

This article originally appeared on: commonsensemedia.org.

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About the Author /

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?" Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do.

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In our culture, it is common for women to feel nervous and even fearful of childbirth. We've all heard scary horror stories from other people about their babies' births. But something that people aren't as willing to share is how much of a turd toddlerhood can be. 💩 Don't get me wrong. I LOVE and ADORE my crazy toddler. But he is the true definition of a sour patch kid. Sour one moment and then sweet the next. He keeps me on my toes almost every minute of every day. 🤪 When I think about the day I gave birth to him, I think, "Psssshhh, that's child's play compared to what this kid puts me through on the regular." Why aren't more people acknowledging that, yes, childbirth can be tough, but wrangling a toddler isn't much easier? This is just my personal experience, but some mothers might agree. Here is why I believe childbirth is easier than parenting a toddler. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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I often tell my pregnant clients that birth has mo I often tell my pregnant clients that birth has more to do with what happens between your ears (your brain 🧠) than between your legs.⁠ 😳⁠
The fear, tension, pain cycle in childbirth is REAL. The more fear you have, the more tension you will hold, which means the more pain you will feel. The more pain you feel means that you will more likely clench and fight against the natural surges your body needs to produce to open your cervix and bring your baby earthside. That's why the more that you can practice, prepare and educate yourself about calm breathing and positive birth experiences before your baby's birth, the better you'll be able to control what's happening in your mind and allow the labor and birth process to unfold and bloom.⁠ ❤️ The mind is a powerful and beautiful thing. Your birth experience can be too.⁠ ✨
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After giving birth, I remember how my midwives made my bed with fresh linens and with me in it feeling comfortable as I nestled with my newborn son. I remember how a meal was brought to me in bed and how everything was cleaned up and looked as if nothing happened -- not like I had just given birth to a baby. (I had a home birth, by the way.) And I remember how they were all with me by my side every step of the way.⁠
I felt the love, the patience, and the respect that I needed. Those are the memories that I hold with me when I think about the day my son was born. It's how I was cared for and how my birth team made me feel that stays with me.⁠
For expecting women out there, be intentional with the people that you invite into your birthing room. That includes your doctor, your midwife, and your support people. I know that things look very different right now with hospitals only allowing one support person, but you can still receive good support. Take an online birthing class with your partner and practice how they can help you in labor. Speak up to your nurse and ask for what you need and what you want for your experience. Be your own advocate! And if you feel like you can't speak up, hire a doula and receive virtual support during your pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. Feeling supported, respected, and truly cared for is just as important as having a successful birth with a healthy mom and baby. 💗
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One day a pregnant client of mine started having a One day a pregnant client of mine started having abdominal pain. She called her OBGYN's office and they had her come in to check on the baby to make sure everything was okay. Everything looked fine and well with the baby so they sent her home saying that it was probably something that she ate and that it must be gas or indigestion pain.
Days went by and the pain not only continued but it got WORSE. I encouraged her to continue reaching out to her doctor, which she did. She would call the office and the nurse and doctor would tell her that everything was fine. They told her what meds she could take that could help, and that if she wanted to come in again the next day, she could.
The next day she went in and they looked at the baby and the baby was still perfect. They told her to go home and said to her, "You must have a very low pain tolerance because everything is appearing normal." Little did they know that she had labored for days and delivered her first baby withOUT any pain medication. (She had a different OBGYN with her first baby.) This client of mine is a strong woman and definitely does NOT have a low pain tolerance. I would know because I was her doula for both of her babies.
The pain she experienced only got worse the next day. She was in agony. She did her own research and thought it might be appendicitis. She decided to drive herself to the hospital this time without calling and told the nurse that she was in severe pain and that she thinks she has appendicitis. The nurse said, "there is no way that you could have appendicitis. You wouldn't be able to stand or drive yourself here or even talk if you had appendicitis." My client demanded that she see a doctor to get evaluated. Once a doctor was available to see her and examine her safely (since she was 34 weeks pregnant) they realized that, in fact, she DID have appendicitis & that it was so bad she needed immediate emergency surgery since it could be life-threatening. The surgery then caused her body to go into labor. Just hours after her surgery she pushed & delivered her second child.
I tell this story because I have seen & been told countless stories like this. (Continue reading in the comments.)
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The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠ .⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠
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We recently posted our ultimate list of Grandma names, but you might be looking for the perfect match for a Grandpa name. 💙 Many fathers that turn into Grandpas usually go with what their dads were called as grandparents or something traditional, but we encourage you to take a look at all of the options! There just might be a better fit that suits you. 😊 Here is our ultimate list of over 100 Grandpa names to choose from!⁠
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Something that I think ALL mothers should know and learn is that you do NOT have to own or accept any information or stories someone tells you if it does not serve you. If it's unhelpful and not inline with your choices, hopes, and desires as a mother, then as soon as it was received immediately discard it. Don't harbor any information that does a disservice to you. The mind is a powerful thing. When we are told war stories and how terrible, awful, or painful things were for them (pregnancy, childbirth, or parenthood), that can live and stay with you. You do not have to own someone else's story. It may have been told with good intentions, but if you do not find value in it let it go. Release it and surround yourself with positive talk, uplifting stories, and happy, respectful, and supportive people.⁠ Be bold enough to go against the grain if you must and do what is right for you and your family.⁠
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As a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit occupational therapist, I find that I take care of the mothers just as much as I take care of the babies. ❤️ Many, if not most mothers, are prepared with the tangibles: a place for the new baby to sleep, clothes for the new baby to wear, bottles, and diapers. But it is impossible to fully prepare for the emotional transition that takes place. New moms are met with not only a little baby who is completely dependent but also a barrage of new and different emotions that you may not fully understand.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podca Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podcast Ep 33⁠ 😮⁠
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Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman's life. 💕 But don't get me wrong, not every day of pregnancy is glamorous. 😬 We've all heard of the luxurious hair, the glowing skin, the stretchmarks with the growing belly, but there are also things that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy that aren't really discussed. That's why we are covering all of the surprising body changes a woman can experience during pregnancy on today's podcast episode. So if you're currently expecting and are noticing some odd changes happening to your body, you can feel relieved knowing that you are not alone. 🤰 {Click 🔗 in bio to listen to the episode!}⁠
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Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠ ⁠ Lately, with e Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠
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Lately, with everything going on, I've been thinking a lot about mothers with newborns. 🤱 As a postpartum doula, I get the pleasure of supporting new families in their homes and helping them navigate the winding roads and highs and lows of early parenthood. But right now I know that families are bringing home their precious babies and are feeling alone more than ever. They have less physical support, which can feel like they have less emotional and informational support as well. This breaks my heart. 💔 I wish this wasn't happening to families or to our world and I wish that I could be there for these moms.⁠
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That's why today, I am hopping on our stories and answering YOUR questions. Since I can't be there PHYSICALLY to help you with your pregnancy and newborns, I want you to know that I am here virtually for you. How can I help?⁠
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{I've left a question box in our stories. Have a question about your postpartum recovery? About your newborn? About breastfeeding? Bottle-feeding? You name it! I've been helping mothers as a birth doula and postpartum doula for 10 years and I am here for you.💕}⁠
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Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠ 📷: unknown Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠
📷: unknown
To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, etc. out there, kudos to you! For going so hard, for not quitting even on the worst days, even on the tired days, even on the days you don't know how you're going to do it, or don't feel like you can. You know it's okay to have some patience, grace, and forgiveness with yourself, right?⁠
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Our children are the future. I had to learn to give myself some grace. Sometimes when I evaluate where I am in life and see that I'm not exactly where I want to be or could've been frustrates me, or gets me down. I'm so hard on myself. But then I realized if the ONLY good thing I've done or successfully done is raise great children, I am in fact doing well!! *Parents, it's so important how we raise our children, and many of you KNOW that is not an easy task.⁠
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There are so many different aspects on this one topic. First, their confidence, self-love, etc. is so important. They need to know who they are, so when they encounter times and people that aren't so kind they are not completely crushed.⁠
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Secondly, think about who you're putting into the world. Do you remember your heartbreak(s), or some of the sh*%$y people you've come across and thought who raised them? Or even when you encountered a child that needed a hug or just some TLC. It's important!⁠
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Thirdly, but not least, for the dreamer or the visionary . . . Yes, we are working so hard for our dreams and goals. And one day we may achieve them, but our building and growing may also be in the building for our children. As we are building a future for them. Show yourself a little love. ❤️"⁠
Words & 📷: @tanishasnell_
"On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a "On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a devoted mother who suffocated under her enormous laundry pile.' #kiddingnotkidding⁠
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I'm trying to be more mindful about laundry and use it as a meditation practice (my main squeeze Thich Nhat Hanh talks about washing your dishes like you're bathing baby Buddha. 😊) Sometimes I can do it and feel grateful and grounded (I find cloth diapers particularly soothing for some reason. 🤷‍♀️) And sometimes I consider just turning our living room into one huge laundry pile and letting everyone forage for their clothes each morning. #wildstyle⁠
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So tell me, wise women of the world--how do you do laundry? Are you a load-a-day type or do you wait until it piles up and tackle it all at once?"⁠
Words & 📷: @spiritysol
It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the weekend. 💁‍♀️🤪 Cheers!
Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (o Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (or yourself 😉) in an easy way? Animal Face Toast! 😍⁠
Pop an emoji for your favorite animal!🐱🦉🦊🐻🐷🐵⁠
📷: @weelicious
Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tough Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tougher than it is now. 😷 Shout out to all the pregnant moms and moms with newborns!! You are amazing. 🙇‍♀️ You are strong. 💪 And our hearts are with you. ❤️⁠
📷: @themommaprentice
The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠ ⁠.⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠
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When I found out I was pregnant, one of the many things I began to wonder was, "What are my parents and in-laws going to go by as their grandparent names?" Grandparents are not just going with the classic "Grandma and Grandpa" names anymore. Some are now getting creative and are coming up with new ideas. If your mother or mother-in-law are unsure of what they want their special Grandma names to be, we're sharing our ultimate list of over 100 Grandma names to choose from!⁠ ❤️ ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @newmommy_in_city