Is Screen-Free Even Possible with Baby #2?
It’s right there in the Expert’s Guide to Modern Parenting, between “Real moms try for natural labor” and “Consider co-sleeping”: No screen time for babies under 2.
Being a diligent rule-follower, I took this admonishment to heart with my firstborn, going so far as to keep him out of the living room on Sunday afternoons when the TV blared football and what were surely development-stunting advertisements for beer and muscle trucks.
There came a time though–let’s say it was at age 2, perchance– that those two allotted hours of TV became both of our best friends. He got to veg out, I got to shower, or cook dinner, or whatever it was I did during those carefree days of only having one child, and everybody won.
Fast forward three years. The now five-year-old still enjoys his daily TV, but so does his one-year-old sister. It’s not that she sits and watches it like he does, but she’s definitely more familiar with Handy Manny and Sophia the First than he was at that age. More concerning is her affection for the iPad, which she can swipe and tap with the best of them. How did she manage to change the lock screen password anyway? She’s obviously from generation post-Millenial.
And I’m powerless to stop it. More truthfully, I’m too busy to worry about what all this evil media exposure might be doing. Rather than mindless adhering to the guideline, this time I’m questioning it. What’s the big problem with a little screen time before age 2 anyway? Don’t tell anyone, but I’d love it if she’d sit still for a half hour of (educational, of course) programming.
If you’re determined to keep your second baby as digitally pure as the first, I offer these ideas:
1. Only allow your firstborn to watch shows on your tablet or phone. Don’t worry, he’ll hold it so close to his face that nary a pixel will slip out.
2. Allow your toddler to play with your iPhone. It will only take a few minutes before the phone’s been dropped in the toilet or showcasing a shattered screen from being bashed against the floor.
3. Occupy your baby by playing with her while the TV is on in another room. Yes, I’m told some moms allegedly do this with their second child.
Do you think it’s possible to keep the second baby away from screens until age 2? Did you manage to do so with your first child?
Katie Quirk is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.