Fisher Price has made a bouncy seat that holds an iPad in front of a baby's face. Retailing for $80, this may seem like a sound investment in terms of convenience to the parents. But what about the costs to the child?

Behold, one of the worst baby products ever made: The Fisher Price "Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® device." For a mere $80, you can strap your newborn (and infant!) into a seat equipped with an iPad holder and plug them into passive observation of an electronic screen, against all expert opinions!

You can even download special apps from Fisher Price (special for this product!): "Apps for the youngest baby feature soft, soothing sounds and nature scenes, black-and-white images and high-contrast patterns that help develop eye-tracking skills. As the baby gets older, age-appropriate apps introduce letters, numbers and more through sing-along songs, sounds and friendly characters" (source).

If you don't believe me, view the product here on the Fisher Price webpage, along with the company's

It's odd, isn't it, that Fisher Price seems to claim benefits to the baby through these special "age-appropriate" apps even though the American Academy of Pediatrics is very clear on this subject: "Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens" (source).

Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.

I know what you're going to say: "But there's a difference between 'active' and 'passive' screen time." Right. Sure. Except a newborn can't actually grab anything, so I can pretty much guarantee this is a "passive" experience. And the Fisher Price website uses the fact that Baby can't reach the iPad screen as a selling point: "the visual display provides another way to stimulate and engage Baby while protecting your device from Baby's sticky fingers and preventing unintentional navigating to other apps" (source).

Further, the term "active" actually refers to Facetime or Skype, apps that allow the baby to interact with an actual human on the other end. While apps that engage toddlers physically are better than entirely passive arrangements, the AAP still states explicitly that parents should "discourage screen time" with kids under 2 years old (source).

So why do products like this exist?

We already know the answer: Because money.

The worst part of this junk is that it probably works. It probably works beautifully. I've had three babies. I know what it's like to try to get a shower or lunches made for other kids or write that email you simply must get done today. The phone calls you've been meaning to make, the refrigerator that's growing new life forms, the this and that and this… if you could only get the baby to leave you alone for 30 minutes.

I can't even count the number of times I've showered in lightning-speed with a screaming infant in the bouncy seat right outside the shower door. Not the most fun I've ever had.

Soon those "emergencies" will expand into the range of "conveniences," and suddenly I'm strapping my baby in front of the iPad while I do things that can wait

So what's the problem? Well, the problem is it will fix my problem. Suddenly, I have a place to plop my baby whenever I need to do anything, and while it may begin as "emergency only" situations (because I follow the AAP's recommendations! I'm a good mom!), soon those "emergencies" will expand into the range of "conveniences," and suddenly I'm strapping my baby in front of the iPad while I do things that can wait.

While I seriously doubt five or 10 minutes of looking at an iPad will harm my baby, it's the pattern it develops. It's the precedent it sets. It's the beginning of an electronic addiction. It's the beginning of screen-time mayhem.

It's a real thing. I've been a victim of it myself. I've found myself spending more free moments scrolling through social media pages on my iPhone than I care to admit. "Hey, Janelle!" real life shouts from the distance, "Why don't you engage with me? Life is short, dummy."

Excessive media in kids "can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity" (source).

What's the point?

So why would we establish electronic media use in infants, even though it's not good for their brains, even though it's like the most agreed-upon "no-no" in the child-rearing world, even though there are other options (um, hello, bouncy seats, baby "gyms", baby swings, etc.)? Because I can almost guarantee the iPad or iPhone will work better, way better, and it will become our go-to product and we'll suddenly be laughing with our friends, "How did we ever get through restaurant meals without smartphones?"

Ha. Ha. Ha. I've done it too.

My toddler is 3 years old and let me tell you, turning on Daniel Tiger at a restaurant is just so much easier than dealing with her flailing in her high chair like a badly behaved monkey. And I have had moments where I sit down at the table and say to myself, "Netflix, now." But I realized what I'm giving up when I plug my kid into my iPhone: A chance to engage with her and the family, teach her how to behave in a darn restaurant, help her choose her own food. So I make sure I only whip that thing out in dire emergencies. For example, 8 p.m., starving kid, no nap that day, and we're waiting for our food to come.

There's always a cost to every choice we make. And with our babies, we may not ever see what we've given up. Their brains are developing so rapidly. We have no idea how an hour of screen time may mess with their neurons.

Their brains are developing so rapidly. We have no idea how an hour of screen time may mess with their neurons. So why take that risk?

So why take that risk? Why push our luck with a human life? Our kids have one infancy, and it's gone before you can say, "Thank you universe for Daniel Tiger."

I think we'll be fine without one more questionable gadget that separates us from our kids and moves them one step closer to passive media consumers.

Incidentally, I think our kids will be just fine, too. Sure seems like we've survived in the past without iPads fixed in our infant gaze.

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