How to Limit Screen Time for Babies
Updated: Apr 1
You are at the dinner table; your infant is making a fuss because he or she refuses to eat without their favourite cartoon playing in the background. To calm your baby, you whip out your handy iPad and quickly turn on YouTube!
As parents, we are all too familiar with this sight. So, don’t feel guilty about this! We all know that too much screen time is bad. But why exactly is it bad, and how should we limit screen time? Today’s article will explore just that.
Why limit screen time for babies and infants?
Much of our baby’s brain development occurs in the first two years of life. Therefore, in this first two years, it is essential that infants and toddlers explore their environment, gain new experiences, discover things with their 5 senses, as well as engage in play and interaction with other children to learn about the world around them.
Unstructured playtime is important for building creativity, so young children should have time to play away from screens every day!
For these reasons and more, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that:
· children under 18 months should have no screen time other than video-chatting
· children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programmes or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing.
While this may seem reasonable, the pervasiveness of smart devices makes things a little more complicated.
In today’s world, it seems like an impossible task to keep TVs, tablets, computers, smartphones, and gaming systems away from your babies. So how should we as parents limit the screen time for our babies and infants?
Tips to limit screen time for babies and infants
1. Be a role model
Just as your child models your behaviours and actions, your child will learn screen habits from you, whether you like it or not! Therefore, if you want your child to have healthy screen habits, you have to model healthy screen habits.
Here are some ways you could do so:
· Switch off your phone during mealtimes
· Turn off the TV when the programme that you are watching has ended, instead of leaving it to run in the background
· Don’t rely on technology to kill boredom. This means that instead of conveniently taking out your phone to watch a video while waiting for a bus, engage in meaningful conversations, or just be mindful of your surroundings instead.
2. Set screen-free zones at home
Sometimes, it may be easier to establish clear rules about screens at home. To do so, set up zones in your home where no devices are allowed. This could be anything from cell phones, video games, or laptops. The same rule applies to you!
For example, you could set a rule that in your home’s dining table or kitchen, no devices are allowed. Reserve the kitchen and dinner table for family time, meaningful conversations, and hearty meals.
3. Educate yourself about games and apps
While there may be thousands of games and apps that may be beneficial for your child, not all of them are. Before you conveniently click the “download” button, make sure that you understand the app fully. Search online and stay up-to-date about the latest apps, games, and trends that educators and doctors actually recommend.
4. Schedule an “unplug” time
This is another rule that could apply to the whole family. Set aside a specific time of each day for your whole family to unplug from their smart devices. For example, you could establish that an hour before bedtime should be when all of you turn off all of your screens. This way, your family could make great use of the time unplugged to spend some quality time together too!
Too much of anything is a bad thing! This rule applies for screen time and smart devices too. While the educational apps and games that are widely available on screens may be useful for babies, too much screen time can affect development.
If you find that you are often troubled over these issues, use the tips and tricks mentioned in this article to limit screen time for your baby!
For parents living in the Tampines, Nurture Infant House has had 20 years of experience in caring for your beloved children.
Click here to learn more about our infant care centre!
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