You’re sitting in a restaurant enjoying dinner when your child becomes fussy. Rather than make a scene, you hand over your phone, turn on a YouTube video, and before you know it your child is calm and entertained. Sound familiar?

With the readily available cell phones, tablets, game devices, and more, screens are not only easy to get ahold of, but also hard to avoid these days.

You’ve probably heard the debate already: screens vs no screens.

So which side is right?

Baby Screen Time Recommendations from AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that for the first 18 months, children have no screen time other than facetime or skype with family members.
We understand that your family might not live close by, so videoing with them is encouraged. However, TV shows, YouTube videos, and cell phone screens should stay away during baby’s first year and a half.

What else is baby doing around 18 months? Be sure to check out baby’s milestones to find out!

Toddler Screen Time Recommendations from the AAP

For toddlers, the AAP recommends educational or high-quality programs you can watch together. Just like you would read a book with your child, it’s important to be there during these programs. You can ask questions and engage with your child, such as:

  • “what do you think he’s going to do next?”
  • “what color house is that?”

Watching a program with your child allows you to become the narrator or teacher and use it as a learning experience!

Skills Learned Without Screens

When it comes to your child’s early development, it’s much more important to learn human interactions than the newest iOS system. Learning how to respond to others, eye contact, back-and-forth exchanges, and other social skills are learned through activities and play with other people, rather than by watching someone on a two-dimensional screen. Not to mention, children are much more likely to move around and explore the environment when they’re not sitting in front of a screen. Getting up and playing, either by themselves or with others, fosters creativity on top of developing communication, motor, and sensory skills.

mom and boy playing on phone

Make Screen Time Beneficial

We understand there will be screen time, but not all screens are created equal. Like we said before, give them something educational. Apps that promote creativity can be a great alternative. There are open-ended apps that allow children to make decisions and learn throughout the game or task. These interactive apps let your children create content on their own rather than just sitting and watching.

Watch for tips for making the most of screen time (in moderation):

It’s also ok to watch a program for entertainment! Kids deserve to relax in front of a show, just like you. Just remember to set guidelines, such as time limits, and make sure these programs are child-friendly and high quality.