While you probably don't put your young baby in front of the TV regularly, chances are you have the television on in the house sometimes. How much accidental, indirect television time is your baby getting? That depends on how much TV you watch and when you watch it. Discover the dos and don'ts of watching TV with your baby.
^ Don't use TV for white noise
It's easy to leave the TV on all day long when you're home alone with young kids. This seemingly harmless habit can expose babies to hours of indirect screen time. As your baby develops, this can affect attention span and can affect your baby's tasks as she plays and grows. Substitute music for television background noise if you're just looking for something to listen to.
^ Do watch TV with purpose
Make it a habit to only have the TV on for a specific purpose. Watch a favorite show, allow your preschooler to watch an educational program or tune into a sports game you're excited about. Avoid leaving the TV on while a block of kids' programming plays on an on. Limit your own viewing when you're at home with your baby.
^ Don't stress about feeding your newborn with the TV on
If you turn on your favorite show at 2 a.m. when you're nursing, don't fret about it. How else are you expected to stay conscious during those early, long nights? It's more important to limit indirect television time than to cut out the TV completely. If you're really concerned, try a book on tape or catch up on your favorite blogs during some of your nursing sessions.
^ Do ask about TV time with caregivers
If your baby spends time with a caregiver or family member, ask about television habits. Some group daycare settings play movies for older kids. Family members may leave the news on all day. It's important to factor in the accidental screen time your child is getting when she's not with you. Don't hesitate to ask loved ones and caregivers to limit the time the television is on around your baby. Tell them The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies not watch any television at all.
^ Don't sleep with the TV on
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of two hours a day. Don't add to this potential time by leaving a TV on while you or your baby is sleeping. If you co-sleep or you're napping near your baby and TV helps you get to sleep, use a timer to turn the power off.