We’ve all been there – desperate to finish your Internet shop, you plonk your baby down in front of CBeebies. But what about the guilt that it’s a really bad thing to do...
With the best will in the world, at some point, your baby will discover the wonder of the TV. Or (even more addictive) the iPad. And we’re all too aware of the downsides…
But what about shows that teach useful stuff? TV doesn’t have to be banned, just treated like chocolate – something special that if handled badly, you’ll never be able to come back from.
Make a plan
If you’re going to let your toddler watch something on TV or your iPad, limit it to a maximum of one hour a day, divided into manageable chunks of about 20 minutes.
‘Letting your toddler watch a couple of programmes – preferably educational – for short periods during the day is healthier than letting him sit in front of the TV for the whole afternoon,’ says Professor Mitch Blaire from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
TV doesn’t have to be banned, just treated like chocolate – something special that if handled badly, you’ll never be able to come back from
If your toddler’s keen to watch TV or play on your iPad, make a point of sitting with him and getting him to interact with you and the programme.
‘Ask your tot to point out animals or colours and say them back to you,’ says Mitch. ‘Talk about the storyline and get him to join in with any of the songs to encourage verbal development, too.’
Find other options
The TV can easily be seen as the universal babysitter when you’ve got things to do. ‘If you’re busy, find ways to occupy your baby other than screen time,’ says Mitch.
Set up a toy cycle, where you hide away a bag of toys for a few months, then bring them out for your baby to play with. When he sees them, it will be like Christmas all over again, and it should keep him engrossed for a while.