Technology & Your Toddler Part 3

First of all, I realize that it’s not so helpful for me to tell you to turn off your child’s screen without giving a. a reason to do so and b. some alternatives. So, here we go:

A. Let’s me just remind you about what I’ve discussed in other posts. Why can’t we let toddlers and babies watch hours of TV and i-pad?

  • Even if your baby or toddler is hearing the ABC’s sung to him or watching Dora as she takes her bilingual bike trip through the park, these activities might not be developmentally appropriate (as in their brains aren’t ready to understand what’s happening and can’t process the information any better than they could soak in a lesson on algebra or comprehend the  debate on why or why not we should leave NATO.) Babies and toddlers learn words, emotions, thinking skills, etc. through using many of their senses, such as playing with blocks, looking at books, pushing a train, and especially when this learning is done with another person.
  • Peaceful moments *can* come at a price. If your baby/toddler stays busy and quiet with screen time now, later on, she might have more difficulty paying attention, sitting down, and learning. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, says that in the first two years of life, the brain triples in size. Connections that form in the brain, or synapses, are based on early life experiences. Over-exposure to rapid image changes during these first years of critical brain development, which is what cartoons essentially are, preconditions the mind to expect high levels of stimulation. This can make for a fidgety, inattentive child when it’s time to go to school. Studies have linked higher amounts of screen time before three years of age with attention problems in school. Eventually you gotta pay the Pied Piper for the peace that comes with your child being glued to a device. But, there are other options that can be great for babies brain and for getting things done on your to-do list.

In following up on my last post, I want to offer some ideas for developmentally appropriate activities for your child that do not involve technology and that can be done mostly independently.

I suggest, first of all, baby proofing your home. There are companies who will actually come and do this for you! This one was recommended by a physical therapist who works with babies and toddlers.  This way when you need to start cooking while baby is playing, you’ll know that your baby is in a safe environment.

Here are my favorite activities according to age group:

One-Year-Old- Stock up on some of those touchy-feely books that babies can handle. This provides some sensory input and is a good way to get them interested in books from a young age.

Two-Years-Old- Puzzles. Those big chunky puzzles (not the ones with small pieces) can provide independent play time for your small child.

Three-Years-Old- Pretend play. This is a great time to get your three year old some costumes (i.e. your old clothes you were planning on donating) and some play food and let them spend time using their imagination to make creations in their kitchen.

Four & Five-Years-Old- Arts & crafts! Finally they are old enough to play with some simple crafts without eating them (unless your child does eat them in which case, head on back up to the pretend play). These wipe off crayons from Melissa & Doug are great for easy clean up.

I also asked a mom’s group what some of their favorite activities are for their baby and toddler. Here they are in no particular order

For baby:

  • Look at fish in your aquarium (if you have one)- this by the way is awesome. Because yes, the baby is looking at something for long periods of time but it’s not that rapid, frequently changing images that’s really overstimulating.
  • A wooden spoon and a big metal bowl (why overthink it, right?)
  • A box of tissues. It’ll buy twenty minutes while you’re prepping dinners although there is some clean up involved.

For toddler:

  • Fridge magnets (great way to keep them close too. If they are still putting things in their mouths though,  then you’ll want to wait until they’re past that mouthing stage.
  • Train sets (usually they get interested in these around 18-24 months of age)
  • Blocks
  • Magnatiles- some parents say their kids play with these for years and years to come
  • A cup and water in a bucket for water play (warning, this might get messy!)

Thank you for the sharing, Moms in the Bay Area!

Share the activities your child most loves that are technology free!

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