You may be surprised to learn that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages ANY screen time for children under the age of 2 years old and recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time for children 2 years and older. These recommendations come from many years of research showing children who watch lots of television are at a higher risk for health problems like becoming overweight, having sleep problems, and difficulties learning just to name a few. 

 

Today, television is just ONE type of screen time parents need to limit, changing the way we think of "screen time" in today's technological world. Some screens to consider: television, computer, laptop, tablet, iPod, iPad, iPhone, smart phone, hand held video games, video games, LeapPad screen devices, movies, Kindle, and the list goes on! 

 

One of the best ways to limit or decrease screen time is to play, play, play! 

Brain Science for Your Baby

Dimitri Christakis, MD and others have found that the age at which children begin to regularly watch TV has moved from 4 years of age to 5 months of age, and a typical preschooler spends as much as 30 -40% of their time awake in front of a screen.  Screens are everywhere.  Fisher-Price recently marketed a Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPads which raised outcries from the AAP and other advocacy groups. 

 

Why does it matter?  Although many media-based products claim they make children smarter, more literate, and more musical - there is no evidence that this is true. Screens can become babysitters - and they aren't good babysitters for developing brains. Babies and toddlers learn through doing.  Christakis showed that if you gave children 1 - 2 years old a set of blocks and suggested "blocktivities", children who got the blocks had significantly higher language scores six months later than controls. He proposed that one reason for this might be that block play displaced television time.  For optimal brain development, toddlers need interaction.  Babies and toddlers belong in the real world, not the virtual one.

Watch Dr. Christakis's TED talk

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby
 
Your child doesn't need any devices, electronics or TV shows for development at this age. Toddlers learn by doing and interacting with people and things.
 
Keep an activity idea notebook. Write down activities, games, toys, books, art, and anything you can think of that your child can do with materials or toys in your home. Keeping your child engaged in play and physical activity will naturally limit their amount of screen time! 
 
Make sure that everyone who takes care of your child understands that screen time is not a good idea for your child at this age.  
 
Your child will have plenty of time to enjoy the latest technology in the future!  Right now, make it a priority to avoid it for her own good. 

A baby Buffer Prescription for You  

  

Be a role model for your child by limiting YOUR amount of screen time as well. A recent study found that the amount of TV a child watches is directly related to the amount of TV parents or caregivers watch (regardless of rules). 

 

Think about your daily activities and how you can be more active, engaged with people, and screenless!

 

Create a "screen free" time for yourself and stick to it. Turn off all of your devices and focus on spending time with family, playing, reading, or just enjoying quiet time by yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 

 

Children in this age range are moving away from their "baby" stage and toward the greater world that they have never been physically able to explore before. Talking, walking and asserting their independence are the hallmarks of this stage, developmentally. Children need to explore...we just need to help them do so safely!

 

Gene's Research Tip

Does your child have a "magnetic personality?  Well, what we definitely don't want is a magnetic gut from sizzling magnets or Neodymium super magnets. They sound like fun... unless they get swallowed.  These come as small enough pieces that if swallowed, may go through the intestines at different speeds.  Being magnets, they may attach to each other with the intestinal wall in between.  Read More  

Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Denise Dowd, MD, Emergency and Urgent Care Physician at Children's Mercy Hospital, serves as an advisor for Charlie's House, a non-profit dedicated to preventing childhood injuries in and around the home.
 

As the weather starts to warm up and we all look forward to more time outside and afternoons by the pool, it is important to keep water safety in mind.  Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for young children (ages 1 - 4); most of those deaths occur in swimming pools.  These tragic deaths are preventable through proper environmental safety-proofing and supervision. Drowning happens so quickly and small children can drown in as little as one inch of water, so take the time now to develop a safety plan. 

 

If you have a swimming pool, proper fencing is the most important prevention action to take. Fencing should be at least 4 feet high and should isolate the pool from the yard and house and be self-latching. Small plastic or inflatable pools are fun for the family and great for kids' development, but when you are done playing, the pool should always be tipped over and stored upside down and out of the reach of children. 
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