Study: Screen time ‘significantly impacting’ baby sleep

Toddler playing with smartphone

A new study has found that babies who watch TV or use touchscreen devices during the day have shorter daytime naps.

The first-of-its-kind study discovered that even just five minutes on a touch screen is enough to reduce a three-month-old baby’s daytime sleep by 13 minutes. But, there is some positive news – it may actually help babies sleep longer at night.

Screen time impacting baby sleep

Screen time affects baby's sleep

The global study, led by researchers at Australia’s Flinders University and smart baby monitor developers Nanit is the first to look at the link between exposure to TV and portable devices and the day and night sleep of infants. They studied the sleep of more than 1000 infants and their exposure to screen time.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • Three-month-old babies who watched 34 minutes of television during the day averaged 20 minutes less sleep during the day.
  • 13-month-old babies lost on average one minute of night sleep for every minute they used a touchscreen device during the day.
  • Touchscreen use was also linked to poorer sleep quality for older babies (13 months), and more night wakings.
  • Using a touchscreen was more disruptive to sleep than TV exposure.

Surprisingly, although three-month-old babies who had a touchscreen device for five minutes during the day averaged 13 minutes less daytime sleep – researchers found it may have promoted longer sleep stretches at night.

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“These findings suggest that while even a small amount of screen exposure might lead to a decrease in daytime sleep, nighttime sleep might be more consolidated in younger infants,” said Nanit Clinical Research Director Dr Natalie Barnett.

“We see that even in moderation, screens can have a considerable impact on infant sleep,” explained study lead author Dr. Michal Kahn. “There is still much we have to explore in understanding the connection between screen time and sleep, but this research definitively shows us they are linked and the effects vary by age.”

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