Read this article to learn why watching TV with your newborn in the room is problematic and what activities you can do instead.
Most experts advise against watching tv with newborn in the room. Giving screen time to your newborn so you can take a break while watching tv can impact your baby’s brain development, cause speech delays, and impact their sleep schedule. It is safer to introduce TV to their environment around 18 months.
Parenting can be one of the more rewarding and exhausting jobs you have, and it can be tempting to sit in front of the TV while your newborn is playing and resting. Keeping a newborn entertained and happy all day, every day, can test even the most creative parents. Turning on the TV to experience some rest for yourself and hopefully entertain your baby seems like an excellent middle ground.
However, experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise against enjoying your favorite show while your newborn is in the room. It might not be your intention for them to watch along with you, but chances are they will. While moderate screen time is acceptable for toddlers and older children, any kind of screen time for infants can cause developmental issues.
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Why is Watching TV with a Newborn Problematic?
Watching TV around your newborn can impact their brain development by lowering the myelination of brain white matter. With this impact on white matter, newborns can have speech and other language delays because they are not actively listening to language inputs from an in-person caregiver. It can also cause shorter sleep durations.
The AAP advises that even older children should only have about 1 hour of screen time per day. This limit is because studies show screen time can impact how their brain develops, especially white matter which supports language and literacy skills. It can cause caregivers to speak less around the infants, which can negatively impact their ability to learn a language.
Another negative impact of newborns watching TV is that it can result in fewer minutes of sleep per night, resulting in shorter durations of sleep and more waking throughout the night. There is an even more significant impact on their sleep schedule when screen time occurs in the evenings.
When is a Newborn Watching TV Safe?
AAP guidelines state that you should wait until your child is at least 18 months old before introducing limited screen and TV time. It is best if a parent or caregiver is in the room with them and the programs and applications are for younger kids. This is not the same as a caregiver watching what they want and having the infant in the room.
You should not have screens on around your newborn until they are at least 18 months old though you may find it beneficial to wait as late as 24 months of age. You will want to limit their time around screens such as TVs to 1 hour at most, but the less time, the better. It’s best to save your TV time for after they’re asleep.
If you are going to have the TV on to entertain your newborn, then pick programs for infants. It’s tempting to catch up on your favorite series or tune in to a sports channel, but you should avoid anything other than kids programming. Also, try to schedule screen time, so it isn’t right before they need to sleep.
What Activities Can You Do Instead of Watching TV?
Finding other activities you can do with your newborn to keep them entertained is a much better option than turning on the TV. You can go for a walk and point out different things you discover, read a book together, or play with textured fabric toys. It’s best to have activities you can do together, resulting in bonding and language learning.
Incorporating physical activity into your newborn’s day is an excellent way to keep them entertained while also getting them in the habit of living a healthy lifestyle. A daily walk is a great place to start, but you can also introduce mini dance parties where you sing along to funny songs and play outdoors with pets or siblings. Even exploring the backyard can be fun.
There is an assortment of books for infants out there that have stories you can read together and have pictures and tactile stories to encourage interaction with the narrative. Reading stories with your newborn acts as active language acquisition and can help their language development.
Some other activities you can do instead of watching TV are:
- Letting the newborn play with plastic bowls and spoons while making dinner so you can keep an eye on them while also including them in meal preparations.
- Playing peekaboo in a mirror. Any game involving a mirror is entertaining and helps develop social skills like face recognition.
- Start teaching sign language.
- Playing hide-and-seek with toys like stuffed animals or other colorful toys.
- Talk or sing to your newborn, using different tones to keep attention.
- Play with bubbles while enjoying to outdoors.
- Play a tracking game by holding a toy in front of your newborn, wiggling is to get attention, then moving the toy from side to side so they can follow it with their eyes. This helps with eye development.
- Play follow the leader by using simple actions like clapping your hands, stomping your feet, and waving. You can even go through some of these actions with your newborn to help them learn.
Try making a list of activities that you can think of to add to this list so you will always have something you can turn to when you need to entertain your baby. You can keep the list on your phone or print them out to post somewhere you can see them and add new ideas as they come to you.
Some Guidelines for Watching TV Around Newborns
The AAP recommends that parents and caregivers wait until the newborn is at least 18 to 24 months old before allowing exposure to screens, including TVs. However, the AAP also gives some guidelines regarding safely having screens around children. These guidelines include limiting screen time, having specific rooms where screens are allowed, and restricting the content children view.
After waiting until your child is old enough to view screens, the AAP gives some guidelines to ensure that you and your child are using screens like TVs responsibly and in ways that will entertain your child without having lasting adverse effects.
These guidelines are:
- Watch TV together.Watching TV together allows you to keep track of what your child is watching and will enable you to talk to them about what they are watching to initiate bonding and active language learning.
- Do not allow TVs or other screens in bedrooms.Exposure to screens before sleeping can negatively affect your child’s ability to sleep through the night.
- Enforce a screen time limit.Limit your child’s screen time to 1 hour or less per day when they are from 2 to 5 years old.
- Create a screen-free zone.Have rooms in your house where TVs are not allowed, such as the kitchen or a playroom, to prevent excessive screen time. You may want to consider only having a TV in the living room, so your child has to watch it in there.
- Be an excellent example for media use.Children model their habits after what they see from the adults around them, so you must be the caregiver to set a good example. If they see you watching TV all the time, they will think it is acceptable behavior. You must live by your words around them.
- Choose appropriate content.Children shouldn’t watch the same programs as you, so ensure that you are picking appropriate content for your child to watch. This could be content like children’s programming and educational content or content that encourages interaction and creativity.
- Don’t eat while watching TV.Many families sit in front of the TV while eating, but you should avoid making this a habit for your child. Eating while watching TV not only encourages children to eat by themselves instead of with family, but it can also encourage mindless eating that can result in eating extra calories.
These are only guidelines, and you should feel free to change them a bit to fit your life. The most important thing is to ensure that everyone in the house knows and agrees to these guidelines. You may also want to print out these guidelines and keep them somewhere anyone can see them, even if your child isn’t old enough to read, as a reminder for yourself.
Watching TV with your newborn in the room is problematic because it can cause development issues and delays in language acquisition. It is better to wait until the child is at least 18 months of age before having screens on around them, even if it isn’t your intention for them to watch with you. After your child is old enough, take precautions to ensure they watch TV safely.
Background Noise Is Harmful to Learning
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under the age of 2 not watch any television.
Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 18 months has lasting negative effects on children's language development, reading skills, and short term memory. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention.Is it bad for newborn to sleep in a room with a TV? ›
Before the age of 2, newborn watching tv can also contribute to problems relating with sleep and attention as well, as they have a lasting effect on the child's language development, analyzing capabilities and memory. Even simply having the TV on in the background is enough to motivate these issues.Can TV overstimulate a newborn? ›
Some babies might get overwhelmed by noisy, crowded, brightly lit, or colorful places. Excessive screen use. TVs, phones, and other devices can all be too much for a baby's brain to process before they're at least 18 months old.How long should a newborn stay home after birth? ›
There are no set rules about how long to wait before taking a newborn out into the world or when to let people near the baby. Some doctors recommend that parents wait until their baby is a few months old before going to crowded public places (like malls, movie theaters, and airplanes).How far away from the TV Should a baby be? ›
Ideal TV Viewing Distance and Position
The general rule of thumb is to be at least five times the distance from the screen as the screen is wide.
Exposure to screens reduces babies' ability to read human emotion and control their frustration. It also detracts from activities that help boost their brain power, like play and interacting with other children.What are the effects of television on child development? ›
Too much TV watching can also take away time from reading, studying, learning activities, play, and exercise. Television can also show alcohol and drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior before a child is emotionally ready to understand these issues and practice good decision-making.When can I leave my baby in the room with a monitor? ›
Official guidelines tell parents to keep babies in the parent(s) room until they are 6 months old.Is Cocomelon good for babies? ›
Some experts think that viewing Cocomelon is absolutely fine for young children. Nicole Beurkens, a psychologist in Grand Rapids, finds Cocomelon stimulating but not overwhelming.
Television viewing in babies under 18 months of age should be avoided, other than video chatting. To help encourage brain, language, and social development, spend more time playing, reading, and being physically active with your baby.Can you hold newborn too much? ›
Contrary to popular myth, it's impossible for parents to hold or respond to a baby too much, child development experts say. Infants need constant attention to give them the foundation to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually.Can TV hurt newborn eyes? ›
Vision and children: can watching TV hurt kids' eyes? As with any screen time, excess can lead to eye strain and other problems, especially for young eyes that are still developing. Your children's brain continues to develop well into their twenties.How often should you bathe a newborn? ›
There's no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby's skin.How soon can a newborn go outside? ›
According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is good for parents and babies.How soon can you take a newborn for a walk outside? ›
When Can a Newborn Go Outside? If you've just given birth and are yearning for some fresh air, you may be itching to ask: “When can I take my newborn outside?” We've got good news for you: It's okay to take baby outside right from birth.What colors can babies see at 3 months? ›
By 3 to 4 months: Most babies can focus on a variety of smaller objects and tell the difference between colors (especially red and green). By 4 months: A baby's eyes should be working together. This is when babies begin to develop depth perception (binocular vision).When can babies see color? ›
5 to 8 months
Although an infant's color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's, it is generally believed that babies have good color vision by 5 months of age. Most babies start crawling at about 8 months old, which helps further develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination.
Excessive screen time is associated with delays in development; however, it is unclear if greater screen time predicts lower performance scores on developmental screening tests or if children with poor developmental performance receive added screen time as a way to modulate challenging behavior.What do screens do to children's brains? ›
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screen time activities score lower on language and thinking tests. And kids who spend more than seven hours a day on screens show a thinning of the brain's cortex, which manages critical thinking and reasoning.
Disadvantages: Some research shows that watching shows has no educational benefits for children under 24 months of age. Watching TV could divert them from activities that help brain development. Watching screens can be addictive, and parents can struggle to entice children to play in other ways.Does TV slow child development? ›
High levels of screen time in young children have been associated with sleep disturbances, obesity, behavioral problems and developmental delays. Previous research has found associations with excessive TV watching in young children and delays in social emotional, language and cognitive delays.What are the hazards of television watching for kids? ›
They often will take on attitudes of characters they see on television, so social behavior might greatly be altered by television viewing. Research has shown negative effects on aggressive behavior, violence, sexuality, academic performance, body concept and self-image, nutrition, dieting and substance abuse.Can you leave a newborn alone while you shower? ›
It's usually fine to leave a young baby alone in her crib while you take a quick shower, for example, but this doesn't apply to swings and bouncy seats, which aren't as safe. (If you're really nervous, you can always tote baby in her car seat into the bathroom with you.)Do you need a baby monitor if baby is in the next room? ›
You Sleep in a Different Room
If your baby is still sleeping in your room, you may not need a baby monitor. After all, you're close enough to observe them from your bed, and you'll probably wake up when they cry. On the other hand, if your child is sleeping in a separate room, a baby monitor is a must-have.
Goodstein said, when babies sleep in the same room as their parents, the background sounds or stirrings prevent very deep sleep and that helps keeps the babies safe. Room sharing also makes breast-feeding easier, which is protective against SIDS.Is it OK to watch TV while breastfeeding? ›
A breastfeeding mother can do everything that she would normally do as a non-breastfeeding mother. If you think TV is so dangerous, it would be prudent not to watch it regardless of breastfeeding and having children in the house. If you find TV watching acceptable, it is fine to watch it for all family members.How far can 3 week old see? ›
Week 3: Stop and Stare
At this point, your baby might recognize your face, but they can still only see what's 8-12 inches in front of them. The good news is their attention span might be longer. Up until now, your baby might have stared at your face for only a few seconds.
- Second-night dramas. Referred to colloquially as the 'second-night syndrome,' this is the time your baby is thought to recognise how much his life has changed. ...
- It's normal – and it will pass. ...
- Don't panic. ...
- How to deal with it.
- Wash your hands (or use a hand sanitizer) before handling your baby. ...
- Support your baby's head and neck. ...
- Never shake your newborn, whether in play or in frustration. ...
- Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat.
Television viewing in babies under 18 months of age should be avoided, other than video chatting. To help encourage brain, language, and social development, spend more time playing, reading, and being physically active with your baby.What should be avoided by a breastfeeding mother? ›
- Alcohol. There's no level of alcohol in breast milk that's considered safe for a baby. ...
- Caffeine. Avoid drinking more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. ...
- Fish. Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
It is believed that following these restrictions helps a mother avoid health problems such as backaches, headaches and body pains later in life: Avoiding ac or fan, as ac and fan can cause cold for new moms. No reading or watching TV (this results in headache).Should I be doing anything with my newborn? ›
Focus on bonding activities when you're home with your baby, such as talking, singing, and reading. Touching, cradling, and stroking your baby can be a great way to connect. Infant massage, skin-to-skin contact, and tummy time are also great to do with your newborn at home.Can you shower with a newborn? ›
You can bath your baby in any room that's warm, safe and clean – it doesn't have to be a bathroom. You can also shower with your baby. Keep your baby's face away from the pouring water and make sure to use warm, not hot, water.Do newborns get bored? ›
Parents often think that they need to continuously engage their baby to support their developmental growth. Pediatrician and infant development expert, Dr. Mona Amin, shares insight on why a bored baby isn't a bad thing. In fact, boredom in your baby can actually be beneficial for their early development.What is the first color a baby sees? ›
Young babies are indeed capable of seeing colors, but their brains may not perceive them as clearly or vividly as older children and adults do. The first primary color your baby can see is red, and this happens a few weeks into life.How many Oz should a 3-week-old eat? ›
In the first few weeks, give 2- to 3-ounce (60- to 90-milliliter) bottles to your newborn. Give more or less depending on your baby's hunger cues. Here's a general look at how much your baby may be eating at different ages: On average, a newborn drinks about 1.5–3 ounces (45–90 milliliters) every 2–3 hours.What color do 3 week olds see? ›
The first primary color they are able to distinguish is red. This happens in the first few weeks of life. Babies can start to notice differences in shades of colors, particularly between red and green, between 3 and 4 months old.