Alternatives to Baby Screentime: Limit Exposure

  • by Richard Brigg

What's the deal with baby screentime 🤔 The perils of excessive screen time for our little ones... Let's dive into it!

It is important to be mindful of the amount of time babies are exposed to screens such as phones and tablets. There is a growing body of evidence that shows excessive screen time can have negative impacts on their physical health, mental development, behaviour and social skills.

For this reason, limiting baby screen time – particularly those under two – and ensuring they get adequate playtime is essential for their development and wellbeing.

Excessive baby screen time can have significant and lasting negative impacts. It can lead to physical problems like poor vision and obesity due to lack of physical activity. Mentally, it can impair their ability to focus, concentrate, and learn effectively.

Language development, a key aspect of early childhood growth, can also be hampered as screens lack the interactive communication that babies need to learn language.

Screen exposure can also affect behavior, making babies more prone to mood swings, tantrums, and impatience. From a social perspective, interacting primarily with screens rather than people can hinder their social development.

In essence, too much baby screen time takes away from the essential activities of play, exploration, and interaction with others that promote healthy child development.

The Coolest 10 Baby Activities That Don't Require Baby Screen Time! 😎

Sensory Play: Introduce your baby to different textures, colors, and sounds. This could be as simple as filling a tub with safe household items like soft fabrics, wooden spoons, and plastic containers.

Reading: Start cultivating a love for books early. Reading out loud to your baby can enhance their language skills and imagination.

Floor Time: Let your baby explore on a playmat or clean floor. This helps them develop motor skills and encourages independence.

Singing and Dancing: Sing nursery rhymes or play soft music and dance with your baby. This not only makes them happy but also boosts their musical senses.

Outdoor Strolls: A daily walk in the park can expose your baby to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells, promoting their sensory development.

Peek-a-Boo: This timeless game not only brings laughter but can also help your baby develop the concept of object permanence.

Stacking Blocks: This activity can boost your baby's hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.

Finger Painting: A fun activity that introduces colors and stimulates creativity. Use baby-safe, non-toxic paints.

Bath Playtime: Make bath time more fun with waterproof toys. This can enhance your baby's tactile and visual senses without the damaging effects of baby screen time. 

Puppet Shows: Use puppets to tell stories, which can stimulate your baby's listening and visual skills.

Remember, the goal is not to eliminate baby screen time entirely, but to ensure it doesn’t dominate. These activities not only keep your baby entertained but also contribute significantly to their cognitive and physical development.

How Did Parents Keep Their Little Ones Amused Before Screens Took Over the World?

Before the advent of screens, parents engaged their babies with hands-on activities and traditional games that were not only entertaining but also crucial for child development. Baby screentime wasn't a “thing”. 

They used simple yet effective methods like storytelling, singing lullabies, and playing peek-a-boo.

Outdoor play was a staple, with babies soaking in the natural environment and learning from it. Simple toys, most of them handmade, were used to foster imagination and creativity.

Interaction with other children and family members was highly encouraged, promoting important social skills. Indeed, these methods were not just about entertainment; they were a holistic approach to stimulate a child's cognitive, physical, and emotional development.

It is essential that parents protect their baby's eyes from the negative effects of screen time. However, instead of completely depriving them of it, they should be encouraged to spend quality time engaged in playtime activities that will benefit them both mentally and physically. Good luck!

alternatives to screentime for babies

"In the digital age, screens are omnipresent - they're in our pockets, our homes, even our cars. For many new parents, this prevalence of digital devices can be both a blessing and a curse. "

Yes, they can provide a moment of respite, letting parents attend to important duties while the baby is momentarily mesmerised by a cartoon. However, the downside is that these devices can easily become a crutch, relied upon too heavily for entertainment and distraction.

This overreliance on screens/too much baby screen time can rob babies of the wealth of experiences and learning opportunities that the physical world offers.

It's crucial for parents to understand that while our world has become increasingly digital, the fundamental needs of babies for play, exploration, and human interaction remain unchanged.

It's a balancing act; parenting in a digital world requires conscious effort, setting boundaries for screen use, and encouraging play and exploration in the real world.

We Can't Escape it Completely (Can We?): What's the "Screen"-ario for Babies? How Much is "App"-ropriate?

Guidelines on screen time for babies vary, but the consensus among child development experts is that less is more. Children under 18 months should avoid screen use, except for video-chatting. For children aged 18 to 24 months, they recommend high-quality programming or apps if screens are used, and urge parents to view these alongside their babies, explaining what they're seeing. Beyond these recommendations, it's vital to balance baby screen time with other vital activities like physical play, interaction with others, and enough sleep. Remember, it's not about shielding babies from screens entirely, but about ensuring the screen doesn't replace the essential learning experiences only the real world can provide.

👶 ## Top 7 Tips for Balancing Baby Screen Time with Play

Set Clear Limits: Define specific times for screen use and stick to them. This routine helps your baby understand when it is time for screens and when it is time for other activities.

Interact During Baby Screen Time: If your baby is engaged in screen time, make sure to interact and talk about what they're seeing. This can turn screen time into a more engaging and educational experience.

Opt for High-Quality Content: Not all screen time is created equal. Choose high-quality, educational content that promotes interaction and learning.

Promote Physical Play: Ensure your baby has plenty of time for physical play. This is crucial for their physical development and helps balance out any screen time.

Encourage Social Interaction: Facilitate playdates or family time to promote your baby's social skills. These interactions are something screens can't replicate.

Create a Screen-Free Zone: Designate certain areas of your home as screen-free zones to encourage play and creativity.

Lead by Example: Babies often mimic their parents' behavior. Limit your own screen time to set a positive example.


The key to managing baby screen time lies in balance, interaction, and quality. While the digital world offers a wealth of educational opportunities, it's essential not to overlook the importance of physical play, social interaction, and creative exploration in a child's development. As a parent, your role is to guide your baby's experiences, gently steering them towards a blend of activities that foster their growth in a holistic manner. Remember, you are their first and most influential teacher - and the lessons you impart, whether in front of a screen or not, will shape their lifelong learning journey.


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