Do Fussy Babies Watch More TV?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that TV and "other entertainment media" be avoided for kids age 2 and under—but do you follow those guidelines to the letter? If you're a parent who's a little lax on screen time, the findings of a new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, might have you rethinking your tot's tube time.

According to, study author Dr. Jenny Radskey, who works in the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, says researchers "found that babies and toddlers whose mothers rated them as having self-regulation problems—meaning, problems with calming down, soothing themselves, settling down to sleep, or waiting for food or toys—watched more TV and videos when they were age 2." In fact, the article says the study found that the fussiest kiddos were 40 percent more likely exceeded the AAP's screen time recommendations.

While Radskey said it's not clear if the babies and toddlers were fussy and then plopped in front of the boob tube, or if the TV-viewing contributed to the fussiness, the findings, for me, are eye-opening. I've written before in this space about how ours isn't a screen-free household—my kids are allowed to watch a cartoon or two in the morning, my toddler loves to do Starfall on the computer, and my 7-year-old loves playing Minecraft—and this study is definitely making me rethink the role general TV-viewing plays in our lives. For tired, busy parents (like me! And probably like you!) it's super-easy to let screen time creep up. This is a good reminder that we can find better things to do with our kids' time.

Image of baby watching TV courtesy of Shutterstock

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles