Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Television and Babies' Sleep

There are a number of video and television programs that have been made for children under the age of three. At times it may be fun to watch your baby or toddler bounce or dance along with the characters on the screen. Many busy caregivers also use these shows to give themselves a little time for a needed break or to prepare a meal or tidy up. However, watching television may not be best for your baby or toddler's sleep.

New research has found that children under the age of three who watch television are at risk of having an irregular sleep schedule. This means that the child's naptimes and bedtime vary daily, and this can lead to other problems. Irregular sleep schedules can result in your baby or toddler not getting enough sleep and to sleep problems that can affect your child's mood, behavior, learning and health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two should not watch any television, and children over the age of two should be limited to two hours of television a day.

A great alternative to turning on the television for your baby or toddler is to provide them with a safe place, such as a playpen with age-appropriate toys, or to put on some music and sing and dance with them. Watching you is just as fun to your child as watching a character on television, and it is a good way to play or spend time with your child. Plus, the exercise and laughter can be a stress reliever for you too

Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

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