Should your seven-month old watch TV with his four-year-old big sister? Is it OK for your barely crawling infant to attend your preschooler’s play dates? Your older child wants to see the latest Disney movie—is the baby better off at home with a sitter? Here are some practical dos and don’ts for balancing the very different play needs of your baby and your preschooler.
Turn Off TV for Babies and Young Toddlers
With excessive television watching among children linked to such serious health issues as childhood obesity and ADD/ADHD, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends no more than one to two hours a day of quality TV shows for preschool-age children and no screen time at all for kids under the age of two. This means that while your preschooler’s daily dose of Dragon Tales and Clifford is most likely fine, you’ll need to avoid parking your baby or toddler in front of the tube.
What to do instead? “Use preschool television time as an opportunity for special one-on-one play with your baby without the older one interrupting or doing all of the games ‘better’ than the baby can,” suggests Dr. Lawrence Cohen, PhD, psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. To reduce distraction, play with your baby in another room or at least where the TV is not within Baby’s line of vision.