Q: My sitter's great, but she lets my 1-year-old watch too much TV. Is this something I have to break up with her over?
A: The AAP discourages any TV or video time for children under age 2 because research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers need direct interaction with caregivers for healthy brain growth and the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, including language development.
"Play time that includes talking, reading, singing, and other activities is crucial now," says Miriam Bar-on, M.D., a professor at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, IL, and chair of the AAP's committee on public education. The problem with TV is that even though many shows include singing and dancing, your child is still a passive recipient, not actively engaged.
You need to have an honest discussion with your sitter. Let her know that you've been reading up on the damaging effects of TV, and share some of the possible negatives with her.
Also, empower her to teach your child new things by providing plenty of interactive toys. For a 9- to 12-month-old, Dr. Bar-on recommends sorting toys, large blocks, and toys that teach colors or words. Things that have a cause-and-effect mechanism, like a jack-in-the-box, are other fun and functional toys your tot will love.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the April 2001 issue of Child magazine.