When she isn’t kicking contentedly in her ladybug chair or tossing pacifiers out of her crib, my six-month-old daughter loves swiping my iPhone’s touchscreen with her pudgy little fingers.

Specifically, she’s enamoured of Koi Pond, an app that turns my iPhone’s display into a virtual fish pond, complete with lily pads and fish food.

My daughter’s eyes go wide whenever she manages to splash the water or scare the fish with a well-aimed swat at the screen.

iOS 6 Guided Access settings

Once you activate Guided Access mode, you can disable touch input anywhere on the screen by tracing an area with your fingertip.

Not so fun, though, is when she accidentally hits the tiny “?” icon in the corner of the display, which interrupts the koi pond action with a boring how-to diagram.

Whenever that happens, my little one quickly loses interest in the fish and switches to a more absorbing game, called “Put the iPhone in Your Mouth.”

Well, fellow parents, good news.

A feature in the new iOS 6 software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch can temporarily “lock down” an app, freezing all the hardware buttons (including the “Home” button) and letting you draw zones on the screen that won’t react to taps or swipes.

The “Guided Access” feature will work on any iPhone or iPad that’s been updated to iOS 6, and you can turn it on though the Settings menu.

Here’s how to get started…

  • On your iPhone or iPad home screen, tap Settings, General, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and tap Accessibility.
  • On the next page, scroll down again to the Learning section, tap Guided Access, then flip the Guided Access switch on.
  • If you want to, you can also set a passcode for unlocking your device once you’re done with the Guided Access mode (tap “Set Passcode,”) or keep the Power button active during Guided Access for putting the screen to sleep (flip the “Enable Screen Sleep” switch to “On.”) Rather leave those options alone? No problem.
  • Next, open the app that you want to babyproof—Koi Pond, in my case—then triple-click the Home key. The app should freeze and a frame of Guided Access controls should appear.
  • Now, draw a circle anywhere on the screen to disable taps or swipes in a specific area. Once you’ve drawn your circles, you can drag or resize them with your fingertips (which I had to do a few times, after my baby kept swatting the “?” icon in Koi Pond), or tap the little “x” to delete a touch-free zone.
  • At the bottom of the screen, you can switch off touch and motion input altogether (on an iPhone, tap the Options button to reveal those settings).
  • All set? Tap the blue Start button in the top-right corner of the screen, then let your tyke loose.

Once you’re done letting your baby swipe away on her favorite iPhone or iPad app, you can turn off Guided Access mode by triple-clicking the Home key again.

And when she’s ready to tap again, your device will remember your Guided Access settings from last time.

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