How much TV can toddlers watch a day?

Read what an expert says about television and your toddler's brain.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Q: I always swore I would never park my kid in front of the TV. But sometimes, when we’re making dinner or getting ready for work, TV is the only way I can keep my toddler occupied. Is 40 minutes a day too much?

A: Here’s the bad news: Under age two, TV is not at all recommended. The human brain triples in size and weight during the first 24 months of life. This growth is stimulated by active experiences with objects and people, not with a screen. For children over age two, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 120 minutes of TV per day. A toddler’s brain is like a sponge, but it’s also very economical — if a particular region of the brain is not used during this period, it becomes underdeveloped.

Read more:
The screen-time debate>
Is using a tablet to keep your kid occupied lazy parenting?>

Stay in touch

Subscribe to Today's Parent's daily newsletter for our best parenting news, tips, essays and recipes.