Along with keeping it real and using natural materials, Montessori philosophy does not support babies, toddlers or small children engaging with technology. And we Montessori teachers are not alone. Did you know that the American Pediatric Association believes children should not watch any TV (or even see screens!) until they're two years old?! And it's not just in the States. In Australia, the recommendation is the same for under-twos.
It's easy for J and I to keep Coco away from the TV because we don't watch TV ourselves. If we do watch a show or movie, our rule is to do so only when she's sleeping. But where it gets tricky is all the other screens. iPad, iPhone, computer. They're all screens and limiting their use to when she's sleeping is a lot more difficult. During the day, I keep my iPhone in the bathroom and only check it when I go in there. I try to write my blog posts during her nap, but I'll admit that right now I'm in the kitchen writing and she is playing with blocks in the living room. :( For the most part, we try to engage in modeling positive activities in front of her: knitting, reading, cleaning, cooking, to name a few. We are not perfect, but all in all, I think we do an awesome job of keeping her life as screen-free as possible. And I am very proud of that. :)
But...I do think there are a two instances when screens are okay.
When I'm sick.
I've only had two truly sick days since having Coco. One was when she was eight months old. She couldn't crawl yet, so I just sat her in the middle of the bed with her Boppy pillow for support and gave her toys to play with. We made it through the whole day like that. I dozed on and off, she nursed when she needed to and she napped with me, too. It wasn't so bad!
But a few weeks ago, I found myself sick with a walking toddler. Ack! I was desperate to sleep, so I put on Kipper on the iPad. I'll admit it didn't work because she doesn't actually know how to watch TV. But maybe when she's a little older, like say two? ;)
In the air.
When traveling internationally, all bets are off! :) In this photo, Coco and I just beginning our 20-hour journey back to Switzerland last March. For the first two or three hours of travel, she's pretty happy. She enjoys tearing up the Sky Mall catalogue, waving to people around us and looking out the window. On layovers, she can run around and move. But during the long-haul flight across the Atlantic, we need some backup.
In June, Coco and I are going to visit in the States for a month and I am going to buy this Fisher Price iPhone holder for the flight. Yes, I know! It's the antithesis of "no-screen." But people, ten hours in an economy seat with a restless toddler on my lap calls for it, don't you agree?! I only expect it to keep her occupied for 15-20 minutes at a time. And, I'm only going to get it out when we've exhausted every other option. But to me, that is an okay time to give a toddler an iPhone.
What's your approach to screens with your baby, toddler or child? Do you keep things screen-free at home? Why or why not?
(Top photo via Getty Images)