How much television should your toddler watch?

It's hard to keep a child completely away from a TV, but how long is it OK for your toddler to sit there watching? Our mums reveal their child's TV habits...

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How long should your child watch TV for?

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“TV is fine in short bursts,” says health visitor Annette Maloney. “For pre-schoolers, 20 minutes to 30 minutes at a time, once or twice a day, is about right.”

“Using TV to give children a little rest time is fine, but don’t have it on most of the day. It can be useful to defuse difficult times of the day, such as if they’re fractious or waiting for dinner! However, toddlers will benefit the most if you watch with them, and involve them in chats about what they’re seeing,” explains Annette.

So that’s the expert view. We asked you for your opinions on toddler television watching…

TV time should be limited each day

“Kids under 4 should be allowed a maximum of two hours of TV a day. It should be educational, as their brains are like sponges. At this age, they need to be kept occupied physically and mentally, and TV is hardly going to do that for them.”

Carlene, 36, mum to Kyran, 2

TV can over-stimulate

“I don’t like my son watching much TV – he can learn more from real life, plus all the bright images and loud noises can be a bit over stimulating.”

Lauren, 39, mum to Eddie, 14 months

Banning TV isn’t the solution

“If you take TV away from children completely, it could make them want to watch it more later in life!”

Bethany, 34, mum to Euan, 17 months

TV can be fun

“My 5 month old loves watching the colours and movement of TV shows and listening to the music. But children shouldn’t be left to sit in front of the box for long periods.”

Sharon, 41, mum to Jake, 13, Lizzie, 7, and Rachel, 5 months

TV can give parents a break

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting your tot watch a bit of TV. The only way I can sneak to the toilet without my 11 month old crying because I’ve left her is by sitting her in front of CBeebies!”

Colette, 24, mum to Heather, 11 months

Balance TV out with play time

“My daughter and I watch Fifi and the Flower Tots once a day, but I think it’s also important that she learns to entertain herself with toys. With an equal balance you can’t go wrong.”

Loretta, 25, mum to Jemima, 5 months

TV isn’t a problem

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about – television is a part of our culture and there’s loads of good stuff on it. It comes in handy for keeping the kids entertained while I’m getting lunch or dinner ready. After all, mums need a break, too!”

Theresa, 28, mum to Jamie, 5, and Roisin, 17 months

DVDs are an advert-free alternative to TV

“My son, Baxter, watches DVDs rather than the television. Because I can control what he’s viewing, he’s not exposed to all the TV adverts. Plus, we can put it on pause, and the learning elements in the stories can be watched repeatedly.”

Angela, 47, mum to Charlie, 29, Kate, 20, and Baxter, 4

TV – essential for morning-sick mums-to-be with a toddler!

“For toddlers, it should be half an hour per day maximum, but as I’m suffering from severe morning sickness I have to say that’s gone out the window! I’m at home with my 23 month old, and CBeebies has been my saviour, as I’m struggling to do things with him. However, I’ve noticed a marked difference in his behaviour, and will be returning to little or no TV when I’m able to.”

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Karen, 31, mum to Scott, 23 months

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