Just in case our kids aren't quite saturated enough with technology, U.S. company Fisher Price has designed a new baby seat that has a built-in iPad case. Now, newborns can begin soaking up the screen time right from birth. Very bad idea.
An article in the Telegraph wryly suggests that this may be the worst baby product ever. Oh, the seat is cute enough, with its peppy material print and cushy padding. It even takes care of the newborn's physical safety with a snug harness attached to the seat. But what about mental safety? Did no one stop to think that maybe a baby seat with a built-in computer case is a problem?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long recommended that children under the age of two avoid screen time altogether. They warn that too much screen time (on ANY electronic device) can lead to attention problems, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, obesity, and behavior issues. On an even more basic level, screen time takes the place of invaluable moments of interpersonal connection.
In newborns, the brain is growing at an extraordinary rate. Babies need physical contact, speech engagement, and a variety of sensory activities in order to encourage healthy neurological and cognitive progress. And physically, babies need tummy time and gross motor play in order to learn coordination. None of that development is possible if the baby is strapped to a chair, watching ethereal images on a computer screen.
I agree with the Telegraph: This seat definitely gets my vote for Worst Baby Product. It seems like it would be so easy to abuse. Hey, Mom is getting a thousand things done around the house while baby stays occupied and immobilized for hours at a time, mesmerized by a glowing iPad. Sounds great, but at what cost?
Don't get me wrong. I know how hard it can be to engage with a baby 24 hours a day. Two of my kids had terrible colic, so that made things a million times harder. There were days when I was tempted by the "electronic babysitter" just so I could have 10 minutes to load the dishwasher. But I've found other options that work so much better than a screen.
My advice? Skip the newborn computer console and invest in a good baby sling or wrap instead. I've been stunned by how well my babies stay calm and contented when I'm wearing them around. I can still get my tasks done, but the baby is engaging with me rather than being banished to a chair in the corner. With the baby in the carrier, I talk about what I'm doing. I point out colors, smells, sights, and sounds. Baby feels my body heat and my heart beat, so we're bonding all the while.
Neurological development galore. And no power cord needed.
What are your thoughts on screen time for babies? Do you set limits for your kids? Leave a note below!