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Screen Time Guidelines for Babies and Toddlers


Most of a baby's brain development happens in the first 2 years of life. That's why it's so important for babies and toddlers to explore their environment and experience many sights, sounds, tastes, and textures. Interacting and playing with others helps children learn about the world around them.

For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting the amount of time that babies and toddlers spend in front of a screen. That's good advice — but in today's world, it can be tough to keep babies and toddlers away from all the TVs, tablets, computers, smartphones, and gaming systems they'll see.

Let's face it: Screens are everywhere. Your little one is probably going to spend some time looking at one, so make sure his or her screen time is as productive as possible.

How Much Is Too Much?

Babies younger than 18 months should have no screen time at all. The exception to this rule is video chatting with grandparents or other family friends, which is considered quality time interacting with others.

Toddlers 18 months to 24 months old can start to enjoy some screen time with a parent or caregiver. By ages 2 and 3, kids should watch no more than 1 hour a day. 

But not all screen time is created equal. For example, you and your baby playing an interactive color or shape game on a tablet or watching high-quality educational programming together is good screen time. Plopping your toddler down in front of the TV to watch your favorite shows with you is an example of bad screen time.

Use screen time as a chance to interact with your child and teach lessons about the world. Don't let your child spend time alone just staring at a screen.

Screen Time Tips

The same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.

To make your toddler's screen time more productive:

Date reviewed: December 2016


Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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