By Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed., C.H.C
Between videos that promise little geniuses, to toys that light up and engage babies with electronic stimulation, to strong recommendations from leading experts on the “best” way to raise your baby, it can be a little overwhelming for parents to discern what the best choices are for your family.
In particular, there has been a lot of concern about media viewing for infants, with the American Academy of Pediatrics going so far as to say there should be no television for children under the age of two. This is a pretty strong-handed guideline, especially considering the proliferation of media in homes, stores, restaurants, medical offices, etc. Can you really shield a child under two from all media? Do you as a parent choose to do so?
The Middle Road
Let’s say there is an older sibling in the house who does have regular screen time and by default baby gets some too, or maybe you have an older infant or small toddler and you just plain and simple need a few minutes to get something done with two hands. Maybe you love some particular programming for children and want to take advantage. If you do choose to integrate some screen time with your baby or toddler here are some suggestions on how to make it most effective.
- Choose wisely: Be extremely discerning in the media you do choose. We have many general recommendations in our article How to Make Smart Media Choices for Your Child
- Start small: 5 – 15 minutes increments are enough. You don’t want zoning out! If your child seems uninterested or unengaged, move on to something new.
- Watch together: make it a fun and interactive time – really limit the screen as a babysitter.
- Follow up: Use whatever screen time your child has had as a natural jumping point for an activity together. For instance, after viewing a segment, play with colors, numbers, ABC’s… whatever was just covered on screen.
How Two Little Hands Products Fit In
- Movement: Sign language is a beautiful language of movement, and thus is best learned by watching it demonstrated in motion (as opposed to a static picture on a page). An advantage to having the Baby Signing Time, Signing Time, Potty Time, and Rachel and the TreeSchoolers DVDs is you can sign along with Rachel and the children as you learn.
- Baby Faces: Nothing is quite so fascinating to babies as other babies! The use of real children demonstrating the signs in our videos adds to active engagement.
- Segments: Our videos are naturally broken down into smaller themes. Feel free to use these natural breaks to turn off the TV and practice together what you have learned, or move on to something else for a while.
With a few wise choices, and some creative interaction, signing time and screen time can go together in very effective ways. Happy signing!