Recently, I have been coming across more and more people using technological gadgets to entertain their toddlers and babies. I can see how it is easy to fall into this habit, but what worries me is whether or not it is damaging our little treasures and how it is affecting their development.
A few months ago I attended a talk by Sue Palmer, author of the book, The Toxic Childhood: How the Modern World is Affecting Our Children and What We can Do About It. http://www.suepalmer.co.uk/modern_childhood_books_toxic_childhood.php She talked about how technology is developing far more quickly than the human brain and how this is a contributing factor in developmental issues such as ADD, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia, that are becoming more common in our children as they grow older. She wasn’t saying that we should keep our children away from all technology, but that we should be reasonable about limiting the amount of exposure our children have to it, and that they won’t actually benefit from it until they are 7 years old! In other words, we are better off doing more traditional activities with our children like playing, singing, reading, household jobs and cooking. So although you can buy a little box to put your iPhone in so your baby can play with special baby apps without damaging your phone, and a bouncy chair with an iPad stand mounted above your baby’s head, maybe it is best to avoid these and sing to your baby as they watch you load the washing machine/cook the dinner. (Sadly, when I used to sing to my daughter, she would cry and ask me to stop.) You can even get a potty with an iPad holder built on to it – I’m lost for words! However, here’s a great article if you want to read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2518623/New-babys-bouncy-seat-complete-iPad-holder.html
In my experience, limiting technology time (television, gaming, tablets etc) will have a positive impact on a child, toddler or baby’s sleeping. It is also likely to improve their mood and behaviour. I usually recommend keeping screen-time to a maximum of 30 minutes per day and ensuring that it finishes 2-3 hours before bedtime, giving the brain a chance to recover from the influx of information.
Another interesting point that Sue Palmer raised was that 30 or so years ago, most of us spent at least a couple of years being pushed around in a pram where we could face our parents as they pushed, whereas now, within 6 months our babies are facing away from us. Some people may say that this is better for babies, as they like to see the world/see where they’re going/don’t want to miss out, but research has shown that they will benefit far more greatly from having eye-contact with their parents and being talked to and sung to, helping them to bond with their parents and develop their emotions.
Although most pushchairs are forward-facing, there are quite a few parent-facing designs out there! I had the Stokke Xplory, it was expensive but worth every penny and resold on ebay 4 years later for 50% of the original price.
If you are looking for some fun gadgets that may not cause your baby any harm at all, have a look at this website: http://www.gadgetbaby.co.uk/chocolate-bar-teether/ There are some great things hidden in amongst the child-proof iPad cases! There’s even a buggy that folds itself away at the push of a button! Unfortunately it’s forward facing, weighs 15kg and costs around £1000!!!