Having a newborn baby is an exciting and challenging time for any parent. While you want to spend every moment bonding with your little one, sometimes you also need a break to relax. This often means turning on the TV, but is it safe to have the TV on around a newborn? There are a few important factors to consider.
Potential concerns about TV and newborns
Exposure to screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding digital media use for children under 18 months old. Too much screen time can be overstimulating and detrimental to development. However, brief periods of viewing or having the TV on in the background is unlikely to cause harm.
Noise and disruption. Loud volumes and flashing lights could startle or disturb a sleeping newborn. A study found background TV disrupted sleep patterns in infants under 12 months old. Disrupted sleep in infancy can impact cognitive development.
Lack of interaction. crucial bonding and developmental activities like reading, singing, and playing could be replaced with passive TV viewing. Parents interacting and caring for their baby promotes healthy attachment and growth.
Distraction for parents. It’s important new parents stay alert to their baby’s needs. A distracting or enthralling TV program could lead to missing cues from the infant.
Tips for safely using a TV with a newborn
- Keep the volume low. Use captions if needed. Loud volumes can disturb your newborn.
- Avoid flashing images. Opt for calm, slow-paced shows with static scenes.
- Position the TV out of view. Place the crib or chair facing away from the screen.
- Limit viewing time. Prioritize reading, talking, singing, tummy time, and focusing on your baby.
- Use it strategically. When you need to shower or make dinner, a TV show could occupy your newborn for a short time.
- Be nearby and interact. Check on your baby, smile, touch them often as you watch TV together.
- Observe your baby’s reactions. Turn off the TV if lights or sounds ever upset or overstimulate your little one.
Alternatives to using the TV
- Read books aloud or listen to soft music.
- Carry your newborn in a sling or baby carrier during tasks.
- Sit together looking out a window at nature.
- Lay on a blanket for tummy time, crawling, or reaching for toys.
- Talk, sing, or make silly faces to engage your baby.
When to avoid TV for newborns
It’s best to avoid TV for infants in the following situations:
- Right before bedtime, as lights and noise can disrupt sleep.
- During tummy time or active play, as TV could be distracting.
- When feeding, as eye contact and talking aids bonding.
- When your baby is sick, cranky, or needs comforting. Focus on their needs.
- In the background all day. Newborns need interaction, low stimulation, and sleep.
Finding the right balance
The first months with your newborn are precious. While using the TV sparingly has its place, be sure to protect your quality time together. Keep the TV off when interacting with your baby and limit viewing time.
Stay tuned in to your infant’s needs over any TV show. With some caution, you can successfully integrate a bit of TV into your new daily routine with baby.