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Pediatrics group makes new recommendations on SIDS, screen time for tots

The American Academy of Pediatrics still discourages screen time for kids under age 2. It also recommends breastfeeding, immunizations and removing bumper pads to reduce SIDS risk.

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Babies should be put to sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS.(WRAL-TV5 News)
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Babies and toddlers won't learn anything from media products and programs targeted at them. And breastfeeding and immunizations are recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS.

So says the American Academy of Pediatrics in new guidelines that came out this week during the group's national convention in Boston. The group made new recommendations on two hot parenting topics - screen time for young kids and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome prevention.

I thought I'd lay out the basic recommendations here. Click on the links for more details.

On screen time: The academy discouraged media use for kids under age 2 more than a decade ago. But, apparently, not many parents are following that recommendation.  According to a press release from the group, a recent survey found that 90 percent of parents said their children under age 2 watch some form of electronic media. On average, children this age watch televised programs one to two hours per day.

"Unstructured play time is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media. Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves," the academy finds.

The report recommends that parents and caregivers:

  • Set media limits for their children before age 2, bearing in mind that the AAP discourages media use for this age group. Have a strategy for managing electronic media if they choose to engage their children with it;
  • Instead of screens, opt for supervised independent play for infants and young children during times that a parent cannot sit down and actively engage in play with the child. For example, have the child play with nesting cups on the floor nearby while a parent prepares dinner;
  • Avoid placing a television set in the child’s bedroom;
  • Recognize that their own media use can have a negative effect on children.

“In today’s ‘achievement culture,’ the best thing you can do for your young child is to give her a chance to have unstructured play—both with you and independently," said Dr. Ari Brown, lead author of the policy, in a press release. "Children need this in order to figure out how the world works.”

Click here for more information about the new recommendations on television and other screen time for young children..
On SIDS prevention: The focus is on creating a safe place for infants to sleep.

The recommendations include:

  • Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should be immunized. Evidence suggests that immunization reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
Click here for more information about the new recommendations to cut SIDS risk.

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