Fussy toddlers watch more TV

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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A new study finds fussy infants and toddlers typically watch more television or videos than other children. Boston Medical Center researchers questioned the parents of nearly 7,500 children at 9 months and 2-years old.

They found that the infants and toddlers whom parents characterized as most fussy, or who have difficulties with self-soothing, falling or staying asleep, or controlling their emotional state, also had the most media exposure. Researchers say kids with self-regulation problems watched about 9 more minutes of media per day at age 2.

"Interestingly, the kids who were less likely to be able to self-regulate had more media exposure," said Dr. Elaine Schulte, who did not take part in the study but is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Researchers say early childhood is a critical time for forming lifelong media habits and suggest pediatricians help parents develop a healthier media diet. Schulte agrees.

"The whole point of the study is to emphasize that parents should not use media, TV, videos as the pacifier," warned Schulte. "We know that kids who are exposed to more media, early in life are more likely to have speech and language problems, which leads to reading problems and learning problems." 

Complete findings for the study "Television Viewing, Bedroom Television, and Sleep Duration from Infancy to Mid-Childhood" can be found in the journal Pediatrics.

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