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The BIG question: How much screen time—if any—should your child be allowed?

This popular parenting debate is often top of mind in our iPhone-tablet-Netflix-gadget-loving world. Is it okay to give your kid quality time with Elmo in order for you to get peaceful dinner making? In our opinion, it's a personal choice that every parent has to make in our device-obsessed age.

A new study out of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has offered guidance on children's and adolescents' media use saying, “not all screen time is detrimental or that parents should feel guilty if they need to put on a cartoon for a few minutes."


For many parents, it's not always black and white. Children are now born with the ability to magically unlock our iPhones with their tiny fingers—and other recent research shows that some programming, like Sesame Street, can actually boost outcomes for little brains. What's a parent to do?

Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, FAAP, and member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media has argued for responsible media use for children under two saying, “Tablets can be used to read books to children, and high quality apps are similar to toys. Therefore, the AAP needs to consider how these devices are used instead of discouraging their use across the board. We don't want to risk appearing so out of touch that we're irrelevant and people won't take our advice seriously."

Media use is always going to be a part of our parenting, so you might get started by creating a family media use plan so that everyone's on the same page.

If you are ready to pop out the iPad (sometimes!), or are looking for new entertainment for your toddler, we've rounded up some of our top picks.

Here are some of our favorite creative and smart apps to consider for your kiddo:

Elmo Calls

Elmo Calls

This is an app full of fun phone calls from Elmo, which will help teach your child about healthy habits, self-confidence and letters.

$1.99

Toca Band

Toca Band

Is the kid in your life musically inclined? Let them play with sounds and create their own band.

$3.99

Arthur's Teacher Trouble

Arthur's Teacher Trouble

The beloved aardvark makes his digital app debut. Nervous energy sure to come.

$4.99

Number Quiz

Number Quiz

Number Quiz has four different games for every stage of learning: flashcards, identification, matching and handwriting. Designed for kids but great for all ages. Yes, even you, mama.

$1.99

Wheels on the Bus

Wheels on the Bus

A tribute to a childhood classic, Wheels on the Bus, turns learning into fun activities.

$0.0

Trucks

Trucks

An award-winning educational, creative play app, Trucks teaches sequencing, sorting and problem solving. Get ready to head to the carwash, tow trucks, pick up garbage and recycling, and so much more.

$0.0

Elmo Loves ABCs

Elmo Loves ABCs

This app is full of games, activities and videos that teach your child about letters, sounds and words with their favorite furry friend.

$4.99

The Boynton Collection

The Boynton Collection

Stomp your feet and clap your hands! Now you can find Sandra Boynton's first four interactive apps in one convenient place: The Going to Bed Book, Moo, Baa, La La La!, Blue Hat, Green Hat and Barnyard Dance!

$9.99

Toddler Flashcards

Toddler Flashcards

Fashcards are a great tool to help children (and even babies) learn basic words. Use this app to teach basic words while showing cute puppy pictures. What's not to love?

$0.0

Tozzle Lite Toddlers

Tozzle Lite Toddlers

Looking for something entertaining but also educational for your kid? Then Tozzle is the perfect app to help your little one learn to improve shape recognition and motor activity.

$0.0

Busy Shapes

Busy Shapes

If you're looking to sharpen your child's reasoning skills and awaken their intelligence, checkout this digital exploratory playground.

$2.99

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

Bring the classics back in a whole new way while teaching children the importance of working hard and taking initiative.

$2.99

Baby's Musical Hands

Baby's Musical Hands

Baby can make the screen come alive with motion and music with his touch, meaning "your baby gets the kind of feedback they expect when touching the screen."

$.99

Eli Explorer

Eli Explorer

Created by early childhood experts, this app encourages kids to explore while learning their first words in a safe, interactive world free from levels and rules. Play it in 10 different languages—English (US), English (UK), Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.

$1.99

The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends – First Words

Very Hungry Caterpillar

This game helps toddlers to learn their first words from the much-loved characters. Watch your favorite books come alive!

$3.99

ABC Mouse

ABC Mouse

Feeling a tad stressed about teaching your kid? Created by teachers and leaders in education, this app has over 10,000 learning games for children at all academic levels. It's perfect if you have multiple kids or one who needs help getting engaged with learning.

$0.0

Apollo's Moon Shot AR

Apollo's Moon Shot AR

Kids of all ages will enjoy playing two thrilling AR simulation games to test their ability at navigating a course to the moon and dodging craters and boulders to make a smooth lunar landing, launch their own Saturn V rocket or visit inside the Lunar Command Module of Apollo 11.

$0.0

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to three...how bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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