Is it Bad To Watch TV While Feeding a Baby?

The perfect way to feed your baby causes regular explosions in opinion.

Some parents believe nursing with any distractions is bad, while other parents believe whatever it takes to get them to feed is just fine.

Many people have their own perspective when it comes to watching TV while feeding baby.

We’ll discuss the different sides and discuss any negative effects of feeding your baby with distractions.

Content:

  1. Are there any negative effects associated with watching TV while breastfeeding?
  2. How much screen time should a baby have?
  3. Things you can’t do while feeding your baby

Watching TV While Feeding Baby

Parent Watching TV While Feeding Baby

There is no cut and dry answer to the best way to feed your baby. One truth is that any behavior that is reinforced will continue as the child grows.

This means if a parent uses distractions to help the baby fuss less and drink more milk, the baby will expect to have this distraction to eat.

Many parents welcome these distractions because the baby’s defenses are lowered so they take in more milk. This is beneficial when a baby doesn’t drink much milk.

The problem is that the baby soon starts to think they need to watch the TV in order to eat.

They don’t suddenly decide eating is best in a quiet, dark room when the parent is reinforcing the habit of eating while the TV is on.

Remember that consistency is key to anything when it comes to your baby.

A Parent’s Sanity

For some moms, they need to reach for that remote control to keep their sanity. Moms are tired. Babies wake up every few hours to feed.

It’s only natural for a mom of a newborn to turn on the television for some mindless watching while the baby eats.

The baby will usually feed right through the show. This helps the time go by for the mom as the baby feeds.

If the baby is turning the head or seems distracted by the lights and sounds, this is when it becomes an issue. If the baby keeps eating while you tune in just to stay awake, you’ll be just fine.

Distractions

a newborn doesn't distract by the TV

A newborn won’t be as easily distracted by lights and sounds when feeding as an older baby.

Many new moms find themselves sitting in front of the television during their overnight nursing sessions.

They’re usually just trying to stay awake while feeding. Some even pumped throughout the night.

The most important thing to remember if you’re one of these moms with the television turned on is that the volume should be kept low and the lights off. The baby does need a calm, dark environment.

This helps reinforce the difference between day and night for newborns.

Bonding Time

Some parents argue there should be no distractions at all when it comes time to feed your baby.

Feeding time is a bonding time. It’s a time for you to sit down, relax, kick up your feet, and just be with your baby. This is time to study your baby’s every detail.

They do grow up so fast. This time won’t last forever. The only problem is that many moms feel like this time is too long in that moment.

Since a baby eats every few hours, it’s tough to stare and love on that cute little baby every time they eat.

Most moms would never admit it! A baby is the cutest, most pure thing in the world to a mom, but moms also crave some “me” time.

Nursing and feeding a baby is tough. It’s a time to bond with your baby, of course. You’re not going to get shamed if you don’t bond each and every second of the feeding.

Watching tv while feeding baby doesn’t mean you’re a “bad” parent. You can still bond with your baby even if you sneak in a little TV time for yourself.

A Break

a mom watching TV while nursing

Moms need a break. Sometimes feeding your baby gives you that break. If you want to watch a little of your show during this break, no one is going to get mad.

Your baby will be okay. As long as you’re not taking out a few hours to feed your baby while watching a show, you should be fine.

All moms need just a little time for themselves with their baby. This is a time you aren’t washing bottles, doing another load of laundry, or putting things up in the baby’s room.

It’s All Business Sometimes

A newborn usually nurses for about 30 minutes to an hour. They take their time. During this time, a mom is more likely to need a little entertainment of their own.

Once a baby gets the hang of eating, they don’t take as long to eat. It’s all business to them.

During this time, a baby usually wakes up, eats in the sleep, and then is ready to actually go back to their own little dreamland.

Sometimes they don’t really want to stare into your eyes and bond. They just want to grub.

This is why some moms reserve that extra bonding time for when the baby is totally awake and ready to stare into your eyes. They want to give you those big gummy grins.

Many moms put so much pressure on themselves to push the bonding time. They don’t understand that sometimes a baby just doesn’t get it.

If you want to watch some TV during this business time when they just want to chow down, go ahead.

Overstimulation

Some moms fear the television only adds to the extra stimulation a baby gets all day. Babies get overstimulated easily.

From a newborn being cuddled by ten different grown-ups at a party to a toddler having a tantrum after a busy day, sometimes kids get overstimulated.

This is when they need to just calm down and hang out. When they cry, get cranky easily, seem upset, or clench their fists, it’s time to chill out.

A screen can overstimulate a young baby the loud sounds and flashing lights. They aren’t used to this world.

They like it calm and quiet like it was in the womb. You can easily gauge by their actions if they’re feeling the stimulation.

Screen Time Guidelines

a Baby watching TV

There’s strict screen time guidelines for babies under the age of two because this is when their brain develops the most.

This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends caregivers limit the amount of time babies spend on a screen.

The reality in today’s world is that it’s next to impossible for most children to avoid a screen all together.

Babies younger than 18 months should not have any screen time. This pretty much means they shouldn’t sit and watch cartoons or videos.

From 18 months to 24 months, it’s okay for toddlers to have some screen time as long as it isn’t too much. By age 3, kids can watch about an hour a day of the screen.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. These “rules” are not set in stone either.

Some parents simply have to shake their heads and laugh because their young children are getting a little more than an hour a day for their sanity.

The Why

The first 12 months of a baby’s life triples the mass in their little brain. This means they’re growing and changing all of the time.

If a newborn is staring at a screen during this time, they aren’t learning anything of importance.

They see motion. They see bright lights and colors. They cannot make sense of these things. They cannot learn from these things because their brain is not ready for it yet.

If they watch too much TV before age two, they might have sleep issues. Their language might also suffer. The surprising thing is that the background noise of a TV can push these issues.

If the parent is watching TV, and the child is hearing the TV in the background, they’re getting that exposure.

Some people call it junk food for the brain. This doesn’t mean your child’s brain will be mush, but it does mean they will not learn from the television at all in their early stage of life.

How To Learn

So if children aren’t learning from TV when they’re one year old, how do they learn?

Kids are programmed to learn from interacting with people. They learn from voice, body language, and even facial expressions.

They learn from pouring water into a bowl. They learn from banging pans on the floor. Toddlers learn to pay attention for long periods of time when they aren’t sitting in front of a screen.

This is because a screen is constantly changing. They cannot learn if the screen is always switching. This means they are never forced to have to sit there and wait for the next thing.

Exceptions To The Rules

A dad uses a tablet to stimulate baby brain

Most parents understand that not all screen time is created the same. Video chatting with loved ones isn’t the same as mindlessly watching cartoons scrolling across the screen.

If you’re playing a learning game with your baby or toddler on a tablet, you’re using muscles in your brain much more than watching a television sitcom.

Things like watching educational programming stimulates the mind. Screen time can be used as a chance to learn and interact with your child.

Online learning is a popular thing for all ages. Just because you’re learning on a screen instead of a book doesn’t mean you aren’t learning the same things.

A screen is going to be an integral part of your child’s life as they grow up. The way they use this screen can be positive or negative for their development. As long as they aren’t staring blankly at the flashing pictures of cartoons, they’re on the positive side.

How Can You Staying Occupied While Nursing

You’re nursing or feeding your baby every few hours. It takes a huge chunk out of your life.

It’s important to stay occupied while nursing. You can always stare and talk to your baby. That’s the most fun. You can sing sweet songs to them. They love the sound of Mommy’s voice.

The baby is eating so why can’t you? Grab a snack and chow down along with them. Take this time to read a book or catch up on the social media gossip.

Some nursing moms laugh that they up their game when it comes to shopping online. It’s so easy to nurse in one hand and buy things in the other hand. Especially in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep, you can’t help that you just had to have that sweater at that time.

The truth is that once you have breastfeeding down, you can do pretty much anything you need while the baby eats. You’ll be a master at doing almost anything with one hand.

Things NOT To Do When Nursing

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand there are some bad things to avoid while feeding your baby.

You should never operate a motor vehicle or do anything dangerous while trying to nurse.

You can’t ride a bike or get on a treadmill while trying to feed your baby. It’s sad to even have to make these suggestions because most moms know their limits.

Nursing is natural. You can pretty much do it all while you feed your baby. This doesn’t mean you should try to do it all. It’s still important to take the moments in. Bond with your baby during this time. You’ll blink, and this time will be over.

Overall, watching TV while breastfeeding won’t hurt anyone or anything. You know what’s best for your baby. There are no set rules that will make or break your baby’s development.

Limit their screen time as much as possible, but don’t go crazy trying to be a “perfect” mom that never bends the rules.

Remember this is one of the most special times in life. The time you get to spend with your baby feeding them won’t last forever.

Breathe in the special times, and enjoy every moment with your baby.

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