So this isn't a lecture about how much TV your child should watch or the impact it is or is not having on their development or behaviour. The recommendation is no TV under 2 and limited TV after that but sometimes life with a little one is hard enough without the 'I'm a terrible mother' guilt trip as you point the remote at the screen. My 2.5 year old has been watching a little more TV than I planned for lately (ok maybe 0 hours of TV prior to the age of 5 was a little optimistic on my part) but I won't tell if you don't.
So anyway, let's talk about TV and sleep - that's one area I don't budge on; not for naps or nights. So if your child is having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep then it's definitely worth considering their screen time. So when there are clearly kids' TV programmes advertised as pre bedtime watching what's the problem? Well there are a few key issues:
+ Watching the flickering TV screen or interacting with a computer game stimulates the brain and revs it up. This clearly is not what you want your child to be doing when they should be preparing for sleep.
+ The light emitted from the screen actually delays the production of the sleepy hormone (melatonin) that our body is designed to produce to promote the onset of sleep.
+ The storyline within the programme or video game, no matter how innocent it may seem to an adult, may fuel anxieties and even nightmares.
So with this in mind here are my top tips:
1. I would suggest no screen time at for at least 1 hour prior to nap time or bedtime. If you can, it helps to give your child as much focus as you are able during this time period so that they feel connected and have opportunities to practice new skills; release frustrations; talk through worries - all depending on their age of course. As sleep time nears allow time for a wind down routine: clear away toys, read books, use baby massage etc. When you put your child down for their sleep it can also help to briefly talk through the day and touch on something that they can look forward to later or tomorrow (you can adapt this depending on your child's age, however it's never too young to start).
2. Light is a major no no when it comes to sleep; it simply does not help with the body's natural production of melatonin. So for nap times try introducing a short wind down routine (say 5-10 mins) in a dimly lit environment. For bedtime, try to keep lighting low in the hour before bed. Remember bathroom lighting can be particularly harsh and bathtime is part of the bedtime routine for many families. In your child's room use blackout blinds for naps and nights and if you're using a nightlight choose something with a soft sleep inducing orange glow rather than a bright white or blue light (yes I know, most night lights are blue light...what were they thinking?!).
3. If your child is a prolific early riser then there are several factors that can exacerbate the problem, one of which is light exposure. So along with your black out blinds, don't get your little one up and out of bed into any artificial light prior to a time that you feel is sensible, and don't use screen time to entertain them whilst you try to get a little more rest. Let's be clear...I'm not saying get up and be the model parent immediately...but screen time before 7am can kick start the circadian rhythm, which means you may be inadvertently encouraging an early rise.
And on a serious note...Cbeebies, what is going on with Bing?! ;) http://www.mummyslittleblog.com/2015/03/dear-cbeebies-whats-going-on-with-bing.html