Screen Time for Kids
Is your baby fascinated by the television?
Parenting is hard, period. You have to pick your battles, trust your gut, and above all advocate for your child. So far I think Michael and I have held our own. Sage is a home birth, breastfed, cloth diaper wearing, co-sleeping crunchy Oregon baby. In my 8 months as a mom, especially as a working mom, I have learned that there are about a million and one ways to do something. Every mom has her way because no two children are alike. That being said, this is just my experience with media time and how my husband and I have chosen to tackle it. If you have a plan that is working for your family, then rock on! All anyone can ever hope to do is their best.
When my daughter was about 4 months old, I went into a local restaurant for lunch with a girlfriend. I realized that my daughter, who was wrapped to the front of me, was very focused on something behind us. When I turned I realized she was transfixed to a football game on a big screen TV. Sage could not peel her eyes away! I tried rotating her from the screen, but she just craned her neck around trying to find another vantage point.
My 4-month-old wants to watch football? I can’t even keep her focused on me for more than a few seconds! I realized then that we may have a problem on our hands. It doesn't help that Grandma has caught onto this and now a regular part of her babysitting includes a 30-minute television program. I trust my mom with Sage, she cooks for her, takes her outside for walks, rocks her to sleep and makes sure Sage gets all the breast milk she wants. So is it okay to allow my Mom a 30-minute break while watching my baby? This was scary for me. As a child I spent countless hours in front of the tube.
I loved cartoons as a kid and I have seen every episode of Rugrats that was ever made at least twice (don’t judge—Tommy Pickles was my hero!), but I can’t help feeling like I missed out on something. Now, even as an adult, my husband is careful not to turn on anything too captivating or he runs the risk of losing me for a few hours. I can’t help it, I love TV and so does Sage. So what’s a Mom to do? How much screen time should kids get? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of two and only two hours a day for children ages 2–18. One study I read on NPR noted that after just one week spent away from all electronic devices, a group of 6th graders was able to better read emotion from facial expressions. Screen time is also linked to childhood obesity and ADHD. The fact is, my kid is going to get some screen time no matter what I do. Media, cell phones and television are everywhere and I am not always going to be in complete control of the environment. After discussing the topic with Michael, we decided the best course of action is simply have a plan. Media time is not banned in our house, but it is regulated. I think the key is to set rules early and make sure they work for us and grandma.
|Here’s what we came up with, with an eye towards toddlerhood and beyond:
Before Sage was born, I went through the list of things I will never do, such as no pacifiers and no co-sleeping. Then reality set in and she loves the binky and sleeps next to me every night… and I don’t regret a thing. I think it’s a mistake to say “I will never” because you set yourself up for failure. It’s very easy to turn something into a forbidden fruit, and it leaves your kid just dying to take a bite. For me and my husband, flexible parenting is good parenting. Have a plan and be ready to go with the flow.