Background Higher screen viewing time (SVT) in childhood has been associated with adverse health outcomes, but the predictors of SVT in early childhood are poorly understood. We examined the sociodemographic and behavioral predictors of total and device-specific SVT in a Singaporean cohort. Methods At ages 2 and 3 years, SVT of 910 children was reported by their parents. Interviewer- administered questionnaires assessed SVT on weekdays and weekends for television, computer, and hand-held devices. Multivariable linear mixed-effect models were used to examine the associations of total and device-specific SVT at ages 2 and 3 with predictors, including children’s sex, ethnicity, birth order, family income, and parental age, education, BMI, and television viewing time. Results At age 2, children’s total SVT averaged 2.4 ± 2.2 (mean ± SD) hours/day, including 1.6 ± 1.6 and 0.7 ± 1.0 h/day for television and hand- held devices, respectively. At age 3, hand-held device SVT was 0.3 (95% CI: 0.2, 0.4) hours/day higher, while no increases were observed for other devices. SVT tracked moderately from 2 to 3 years (r = 0.49, p < 0.0001). Compared to Chinese children, Malay and Indian children spent 1.04 (0.66, 1.41) and 0.54 (0.15, 0.94) more hours/day watching screens, respectively. Other predictors of longer SVT were younger maternal age, lower maternal education, and longer parental television time. Conclusions In our cohort, the main predictors of longer children’s SVT were Malay and Indian ethnicity, younger maternal age, lower education and longer parental television viewing time. Our study may help target populations for future interventions in Asia, but also in other technology-centered societies. Trial registration This ongoing study was first registered on July 1, 2010 on NCT01174875 as. Retrospectively registered.