Screen time for babies and toddlers

Screens and media are everywhere and can be a powerful tool for your child’s learning and play. However, nothing can replace face-to-face interaction and play with your child.

Jade Elliott sat down with Kaitlin Carpenter, MD, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare, on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to discuss screen time guidelines for your kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued several recommendations regarding screen time for children:

• Under 18 months: Avoid screen time other than video-chat.

• 18-24 months: Limit screen time to high-quality programming.

• Over 2 years old: Limit screen time to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming created for young children, like Sesame Street and other PBS shows such as Daniel Tiger.

Make sure you are watching and discussing shows with your child. They can be great ways for you and your child to learn together.

The most powerful thing parents can do is be a “media mentor” and show children how to appropriately interact with phones, tablets, and TVs.

• Co-watch shows and videos or co-play games with kids.

• Try to avoid constant use of your phone around your child. You are your child’s best role model. They will do what you do, so if you are constantly on your phone, your child will be too.

• Designate times and places that are phone- or screen-free, like dinner time or bedtime.

• Like anything else in a child’s life, children do well with consistent limits. Encourage playtime up and away from screens after the limits are up.

It can be tempting to use media as an emotional pacifier (think crying toddler at the doctor’s office). While that is a nice solution that can be used sometimes, try not to make it a habit. Kids need to learn their own coping strategies (like a hug from mom or dad) or another way to channel those emotions.

Here are some additional ideas and AAP resources for families:

• When considering whether to get paper books or eBooks, choose paper books. Research has shown that children learn better and interact more with paper books.

• There seems to be a relationship between increased media use in young children and obesity, research has shown.

• Consider making a Media Use Plan with your family. Visit for tips.

• Learn about age-appropriate apps and game reviews at

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.