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Is screen time sabotaging your child's sleep?

toddler sleep and screen time. toddler play ideas, world health organisation recommendations

Parenting in our tech-obsessed world is challenging. Like many mums, I understand the delicate dance we do with screens. In an ideal world, we'd all follow the guidelines advising against screen time for children. But let's face it, modern parenting isn't always sunshine and rainbows, and screens often serve as a lifeline for a tired parent. But how do you get the balance right?

The World Health Organisation highlights, "Prolonged exposure to screen time has been proven by research to have a detrimental effect on our children’s mood, learning, and ability to sleep" (WHO, 2019).

I’m not here to preach or suggest we revert to a bygone era of churning butter and playing in the fields (although that does sound glorious!). Instead, I want you to consider HOW you use screens.

screen time and sleep, mum guilt, judging mums, mumlife


There are undeniable downsides to using screens in children:

💡 The bright white/blue light emitted by screens can disrupt both vision and sleep, particularly impacting developing eyes.

⚽️ Excessive screen time can rob children of valuable opportunities for outdoor play, social interaction, and imaginative games.

🛑 And let's not forget the elephant in the room - the potential exposure to unsafe content, trolls, bullying, and inappropriate content. It’s a concern that keeps me, like many parents, awake at night.


So, what's the solution? The WHO recommends a sit less, and play more policy, a mantra our household fully embraces.  Let kids be kids, and receive screen time for moments when us adults need a moment of respite from the demands of parenthood.

I firmly believe that screens have their place in modern parenting. Whether it's those precious five minutes to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or the frantic 5pm rush to prepare dinner with little ones underfoot, screens can be a saving grace.

But a rule we have instilled in our family; screens are not a given. Screens don’t replace imaginative play nor do they go on with guests over. I make intentional decisions to use screens to my advantage.

Mum-life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows. It's often messy, exhausting, and fraught with challenges. I intentionally use screen time in those moments to help me get through it. I am a better mum for taking those moments, and I am getting better at putting that guilt aside (IYKYK) and instead embracing the moments of peace. Because in the end, it's not about being a perfect mum; it's about being good enough. And if screens help, then who are we to judge?

If you use screen time, you're still a good mum. Put that guilt aside and focus on quality over quantity, using screens as tools to support us in parenting rather than letting them dictate our lives. Here are three simple tips to prevent screen time from impacting your sleep:

1️⃣ Establish a Screen-Free Wind-Down Routine: Avoid screen time in the hour before bed. Instead, offer quiet activities like reading to signal to the brain that it's time to sleep.

2️⃣ Set Screen Time Limits: Setting limits on screen time helps avoid overstimulation and negative impacts associated with screens.

3️⃣ Create Screen-Free Bedrooms: Remove all screens from the bedroom to promote better sleep. (This is something I've also been trying, and loving,  in 2024!)

In conclusion, finding balance with screen time in parenting can be tough, but it's achievable. Remember, you're still a great parent, and with mindful use, technology can support rather than control our lives. Let's prioritise healthy habits and stronger connections with our children in our digital age.

Sydney sleep consultant enhance sleep

Sleep deprivation is torture. Tessa Gow is a midwife and certified sleep consultant working with families across the globe. She offers nurturing methods with lasting results. Let her be the support and guidance you need to get through this. On the other side of a consultation with Enhance Sleep is rested, functioning families. Take the first step towards healthy sleep by contacting me today.


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