When it comes to screen time, what I hear time and time again from all good sources is infants under two should be kept away from tv. The main reason for this is that babies learn best through interacting with real people and not the people on the screen. The other reason is it’s harder for under-twos to get good visual information from the tv. Pop over here to find out how your baby sees tv.
What’s surprising is that watching tv takes a lot of effort for babies. It can make them really tired and if they’re not old enough to turn their heads away they can become distressed.
Screen time after my toddler turns two? The effect of tv on toddlers
What about screen time once your toddler turns two? There are a few reasons still to keep your toddler away from too much tv. The biggest one is that tv distracts your toddler from creative and physical play which is better for their learning and development. Another important reason is that if you have the tv on for distraction or comfort it may become a habit for your toddler as they get older.
Like babies, toddlers can also get tired from the effort of watching tv – but at least they can walk away.
And the hard hitting reality is that there is no evidence that tv, even very educational type programs make your toddler smarter.
But lets get back to the real world….
Screen time in our house
While I know that television isn’t the ideal way to spend time with my toddlers, at the end of some very long days it feels like a saviour. So I have made a rule with myself that if I watch tv alongside them for no longer than an hour then they are still getting what benefits them most – my responses to them and the world around them.
My two year old’s favourite program at the moment is In the Night Garden and my nearly four year old’s favourite is Bubble Bath Bay (a relatively new addition to ABC2). While we are watching these programs I try to talk about the story and characters and ask questions as the story unfolds.
Good tv shows for babies and toddlers?
There are three general rules I stick to when deciding what tv programs we will watch.
- The first is a simple one which is the program has to be designed for toddlers.
- The second is anything which they might see as scary such as loud music or angry animals or monsters is a no go. A few times I have been caught out and my toddler has been scared by something I didn’t pick up on, so remember it’s really hard for toddlers to understand that what they’re seeing on tv isn’t real.
- The last thing is absolutely no advertising which limits us to ABC2.
How much tv should infants watch?
The experts say children between 2 and 5 should watch no more than an hours a day of screen time. A good habit to get into is to turn the tv off when the program is over.
This blog post is brought to you and your baby with love from Julia and the Itchy Baby Relief team x