TV Alternatives for Young Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years old watch no television and older children be allowed no more than 1-2 hours of screen time a day. You probably understand that these recommendations are aimed at protecting your child from the negative effects of too much media exposure. However it may feel overwhelming to figure out how to keep your child occupied all day and especially when you need to get something done alone. Here is a list of ideas for no-TV alternatives. Have fun trying them and please add more! What do you do when you need a break from the kids and they need a break from the TV?

  • Set up a drawer in your kitchen filled with fun kitchen gadgets and containers so your sweetie can play while you work.
  • Make homemade play dough (1 cup flour,1 cup warm water, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 cup salt, food coloring – Mix all ingredients, stir over medium heat until smooth and thick. Place in airtight container when cooled).
  • Let your child make mud pies outside and give them real kitchen tools to use.
  • Play some music and have dance parties – let the kids get some good energy going!
  • Set up a small table in your kitchen or family area and leave paper, crayons, pencils and other craft supplies out.
  • Keep a box full of mail supplies – return address labels and envelopes you save from junk mail, stickers, stampers and let them play postoffice.
  • Save some especially fun toys hidden and only bring them out when you really need some time to get something done – their “newness” will catch your child’s attention for longer.
  • Have them play “bop the balloon” – the goal is to keep the balloon in the air as long as possible! Add more balloons when they get better at the game.
  • If you are cooking let her join you; put her on a chair or stool and give her some tools to play with or let her wash “dishes” in the sink.

When it comes down to it the TV can be a powerful babysitter but frequent use of it is not good for our children. During the brief time that you have a very young child you do often have to work hard to keep them entertained but with some imagination you can occupy them without giving into the draw of the television (that way you save it for the times you really need a break). There are lots more ideas for TV-free fun; what ideas can you add here?

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