More screen time for day-care toddlers

12.01.09 Study finds some kids spend one-third of their day watching TV

TV watching_1.jpg

Preschoolers in home-based day cares are sitting as many as two hours a day in front of a TV, the Los Angeles Times reports. When added to the two to three hours many parents already admit to allowing at home, we're talking more than one-third of the estimated 12 hours a child is awake daily plopped in front of the boob tube.

In the study of 168 child care programs in four states, the Seattle-based researchers found that toddlers ages 1 to 3 in home-based day cares watched an average of 1.6 hours of TV, including DVDs and videos; children ages 3 to 5 watched 2.4 hours per day in the home day cares. Children in center-based programs spent 1.8 fewer hours in front of a TV than home-based kids, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous studies have linked TV watching in young children to obesity, aggression, cognitive delays and decreased attention spans. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages TV watching for children younger than 2, plus recommends older children watch no more than two hours.

Many parents choose home-based day care over larger facilities because they feel it offers a more personal experience for their child. Wondering which type of child care is best for you and your little one? Here's the inside scoop on three common options in most areas.

Most experts agree that too much TV means less time for children 2 and younger to interact and develop language skills. But in reality, every busy mom occasionally lets her baby watch TV, especially during extra-harried moments. Remember, there's no guilt necessary when it's limited. Here's our TV Guide for Tots to share our picks for the best shows and DVDs for your little one.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.