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The best way of spending time with your baby or toddler is to talk to them all the time, and to involve them in whatever you are doing. Limit your own use of screens, especially your mobile phone, when you are with them. Give your child your full attention as much as possible and set a good example.
As busy, often tired parents or carers, the easy option is to plonk your child in front of the television, or to give them a mobile phone or tablet to play with. That's okay for short periods and as a special treat. It's important to lay down the rules for screen time when your child is very young. Work to build good, safe habits for watching screens.
Stay in the same room as your child when they are watching something. By being there you can encourage active engagement with whatever they are watching. Talk to them about the characters and what's happening. Ask questions to make them think about what they see and hear.
Choose TV channels that don't have advertisements - like RTÉ Junior, either live or on the RTÉ Player. If you allow your child to play on your mobile phone, make sure to block adult content and keep a close eye. If you would like to read more guidelines, click on this link from Baby Center (US).
Play is one of the main ways that babies and toddlers learn about the world – it’s also one of the most effective ways they learn. When a child plays they refine learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond.
As a parent, you are your child’s best playmate so try to spend time every day playing together. As your baby gets older, don’t try to teach them anything during play. They will learn best if they choose what to play and you follow their lead.
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