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For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents that children under the age of two should have no screen time at all, and that children over two should be limited to two hours per day.


Those guidelines, the AAP explains, are "science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle."

But in the years since those initial rules were published, screens have becoming an even larger part of our lives. iPads, FaceTime, even high-quality children's television provide new ways for children to interact with the digital world, and the pediatrician's group now acknowledges that it can be slow to keep up with the pace of innovation in our lives and families.

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"In a world where 'screen time' is becoming simply 'time,' our policies must evolve or become obsolete," the AAP said in a statement.

Many of their new guidelines boil down to use your best judgment, but the new rules do help mamas know how to think about raising children who have a healthy relationship with technology. (And as busy women always on our smartphones, we know that even we need help setting limits and being a good example!)

Here are its 12 updated principles to help parents guide their little ones towards a healthy relationship with technology. Know that:

  1. Media is just another environment. Children do the same things they have always done, only virtually. Like any environment, media can have positive and negative effects.
  2. Parenting has not changed. The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know their friends and where they are going with them.
  3. Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.
  4. We learn from each other. Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. “Talk time” between caregiver and child remains critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers. The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g., a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling). Optimal educational media opportunities begin after age 2, when media may play a role in bridging the learning achievement gap.
  5. Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.
  6. Curation helps. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research validates their quality. An interactive product requires more than “pushing and swiping” to teach. Look to organizations like Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) that review age-appropriate apps, games and programs.
  7. Co-engagement counts. Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Play a video game with your kids. Your perspective influences how your children understand their media experience. For infants and toddlers, co-viewing is essential.
  8. Playtime is important. Unstructured playtime stimulates creativity. Prioritize daily unplugged playtime, especially for the very young.
  9. Set limits. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Does your child’s technology use help or hinder participation in other activities?
  10. It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are integral to adolescent development. Social media can support identity formation. Teach your teen appropriate behaviors that apply in both the real and online worlds. Ask teens to demonstrate what they are doing online to help you understand both content and context.
  11. Create tech-free zones. Preserve family mealtime. Recharge devices overnight outside your child’s bedroom. These actions encourage family time, healthier eating habits and healthier sleep.
  12. Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes using media. These can be teachable moments if handled with empathy. Certain aberrations, however, such as sexting or posting self-harm images, signal a need to assess youths for other risk-taking behaviors.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Whether I live next to you or across the country, social media makes it easy for us to stay updated on each other's lives and that's a wonderful thing. I love seeing pictures of your kids and I think it's great that you choose to share videos of your child singing, giggling and taking his or her first steps.

I simply choose not to share pregnant pictures, or even a family photo from the hospital once our daughter arrived because my pregnancy, birth and growing family are parts of my life I wanted to protect from the outside world.

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