Parenting is a difficult task; no doubt but anything worth doing is worth doing well. Introducing TV watching to your baby at a time he isn’t supposed to be exposed to the screen is bad and should not be practiced. Your excuse might be your tight schedule but there are other ways to keep your baby busy while you carry out your daily activities.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies under 18 months should never be exposed to TV or any screen at all. This is because it affects them and the effect might not be too obvious at their age but will become noticeable as they grow.
Babies above 18 months may watch TV or make use of educational applications on tablets for a few minutes a day or 1-hour maximum but it must be under strict parental supervision.
The essence of the limits placed on their screen time is to avoid the bad effect of prolonged screen exposure which are always severe. You don’t want your baby to develop eye problems at a later age because of TV.
Can Babies Watch TV at 6 Months?
TV is recommended for children under 18 months, and not for babies below that age. Even after 18 months, parents are advised by Pediatricians to track their children’s TV-watching time to avoid long exposure to the screen.
The exception to this is video chatting with family members. At their age, babies need human interaction more than TV series. Video chatting helps children’s social and language development. It also allows them to bond naturally with family or friends.
Even with the video-chatting, parents are still advised to limit the time of conversation for the sake of babies’ eyes.
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Is Watching TV Bad for Babies?
To be specific, TV watching is very bad for babies under 18 months. At the age of 2, it isn’t so bad but prolonged exposure can cause an equal effect. TV watching for under 18 months babies and prolonged exposure for toddlers can cause a lot of damage which includes:
1. Poor Brain Development in Babies
Toddlers between 2 to 5 years old, when exposed to TV longer than the recommended time range, develop microstructural organization and myelination of the brain white matter tracts. These tracts are responsible for the easy understanding of language and grasping of literacy skills as well as cognitive assessment.
Brain development is at its peak between the newborn stage to age 5 and any slight mistake can lead to complications in brain formation. The best way to avoid this is to play by the rule.
2. Speech And Language Delay
According to research made in 2017, a minute spent by babies under 18 months in front of a screen of any kind can delay babies’ language development.
At their age, babies need human interaction which helps in their language assimilation. When this need is exchanged with ample TV-watching time, they find it difficult to understand language and this affects their speech.
3. Difficulty in Sleeping
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exposing your baby to the screen before time or longer than you should make sleeping difficult for him. This explains why most babies cry late in the night, disturbing the neighbors and also keeping their parents; mothers especially, up at night.
To avoid this discomfort both on your side and on the side of the baby, keep the TV away from your baby and track the screen time of your 2-year-old toddler.
4. Unhealthy Vision
When you expose your baby to a TV or other screens, he will develop eye pain, redness of the eye, and blurry vision. Adults even experience these eye problems when they get their eyes fixed on the TV or tablets for a long time.
Your baby might end up having an eye problem called nearsightedness at an early age, and this will result in him wearing glasses to function well. Taking your baby from screens or monitoring the number of minutes he spends watching TV isn’t maltreatment, rather, you are doing what you must do to help that baby.
5. Hinders Family Bonding
If your baby prefers to watch TV than be with his older siblings or chat with his grandparents, you have successfully or indirectly thought him that family matters less thereby disrupting a family bonding process.
This isn’t a good habit and if not corrected at a tender age, it may affect his relationship both with family members and the people around him.
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Is It Okay to Watch TV With a Newborn in the Room?
Watching TV with a newborn in the room isn’t a good practice. Even though they aren’t seeing yet, their eyes are at risk. Babies get attracted to the sound that the TV makes and also the bright light that comes with it. These properties make them focus their attention on the TV direction and it is bad for their eyes.
It is best to take away screens of any kind from newborns until they become of age (2 years). They also need quality sleep, the sound from the TV you might be watching will serve as a big distraction.
When Can Babies And Toddlers Watch TV?
Babies should not watch TV or even make use of tablets. Don’t be deceived by people that market tablets with supposed educational Apps for kids below age 2. When they get to age 2, you can gently introduce them to TV or any form of the screen under strict supervision.
To be more direct, allow your 2-year and above toddlers to watch educative TV shows because their brain development is at its peak at this age bracket. They are capable of learning how to solve arithmetic and also other problem-solving skills.
How Long Can a 2 Year Old Watch TV?
Based on the recommendation given by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AA), 2-year-old babies are allowed to watch TV but only for 1 hour and it must be a high-quality educational TV program. Parents are advised to keep their children off adults’ content on TV until they reach the required age.
Parents are also advised to watch TV with their children to help explain more about things that the children may find difficult to understand as this will help them grab lessons easily.
How Can I Manage 2 Year Old Screen Time?
TV watching is always addictive, especially for 2-year-old infants that were newly introduced to it. Stopping them from watching TV after one hour may be difficult to do because of the entertainment they derive from it but there are ways to manage this efficiently.
1. Select Short TV Shows Only
When you allow your kids to watch short TV shows, they get used to it. Once that particular TV show ends, their brains record that there’s no more show to watch and they will retire into doing something else.
But you must be disciplined enough to switch the TV off immediately after the show ends. If you don’t, your baby will get to know that there’s still something to watch after his favourite show. If this happens, you will find taming his TV watching a lot more difficult.
2. Watch TV with your Baby
This might be difficult to do because of your busy schedule but will be appreciated. This is because while watching TV with your baby, he will have the opportunity to ask a certain question that will help widen his intellect. He will get to see TV watching time as the time for learning and bonding with you than a time for frivolous entertainment.
3. Avoid Leaving the TV on After the TV Hour
Don’t leave the TV on when it’s not your baby’s TV hour. Parenting is a responsibility and it will take from you as well. If you must limit or manage your baby’s screen time, you must also stay disciplined enough to make things work for you.
It is advised that you watch TV as a parent away from your baby when it isn’t his TV show hour, this will help him remain faithful. You might find this difficult to do but it is a good sacrifice for the health of your baby.
4. Bring Up Other Fun Activities
Don’t make TV watching the way your child can have fun. Find out other things that he can do away from TV to catch fun. You can introduce him to certain mind-growing games like brick building with toys and if he is above two, there’s no harm in introducing games like chess to him.
You can as well introduce him to outdoor games like football and its likes. Your baby will appreciate them more than being locked up in a room watching TV.
5. Make Use of the Parental Guidance Feature
Most TV shows these days have that feature and you have to use it to your advantage. You can do this by following the instructions in your manual or by calling the customer service representatives for help. This will help you manage the kind of content your baby consumes, and the number of minutes spent.
Also Read: How to Help Picky Toddler Eat
Resist the urge of letting your baby watch TV all he wants while you get busy with your daily activities. It might seem rewarding at the time but will breed problems both for you and your baby in a long run. Keep under 18 months babies off the TV and control your 2-year-old baby’s TV watching. Follow the suggestions on how to manage his TV watching and you will have less to worry about.