Fussy Babies: No easy fix

Posted at: 04/14/2014 9:00 AM
By: Erika Edwards, NBC News

(NBC News)  Some babies come into this world a little fussier than others.  They find it more difficult to soothe themselves, fall asleep or play with others.

To cope many parents pacify toddler tantrums with television screens.

Dr. Jenny Radesky from Boston Medical Center can sympathize, having had two fussy babies herself.
She lead a study to see whether infants and toddlers whose parents classified them as being a little more demanding had more screen time than easier babies and found they did.

"Infants and toddlers who were the most difficult between 9 months and 2 years had a 40% greater chance of being exposed to what we call excessive media use," Dr. Radesky says.

That's more than two hours of screen time a day per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The kids in this study were born in 2001, before the recent tablet and smartphone explosion.

While television's bright lights seem to focus the babies' attention, they can actually over-stimulate kids, making them even fussier.  The concern is that kids are missing out on opportunities to learn healthier coping skills.

"Parents are the best teachers of how kids can learn to calm down, and so if the more difficult kids are watching more media, a lot of those enriching interactions are being replaced," Dr. Radesky warns.

Experts recommend keeping the TV off as much as possible and focusing the kids on reading or playing instead.