Monday, August 15, 2011

What are your thoughts on babies watching TV? Truth be told, when I was pregnant and even in L's first few months, I was 100% against it. I felt there are SO MANY ways to engage a baby/child that using a TV was kind of a lazy way out. I didn't want to raise a child that had to be visually stimulated ALL THE TIME; I still don't.

We used to have an 18 in. TV that she never showed any curiosity in anyway, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem keeping her interested in other things. Then our TV broke about 6 weeks ago, and we upgraded to a 32 in. (for us, this makes for a humongous television). Sure enough, the first time we turned it on, her little head turned right to it and her eyes stared in amazement... and we were watching CNN. Seeing as she spends most of her indoor hours in our living room, we made sure to only turn it on if she was sleeping.

About a week later, my mom sent her a package of goodies in the mail including a copy of 101 Dalmatians. I figured I'd just hold onto it until she got a little older. Another few days passed by and I was getting us ready for her nightly walk. It was close to her bedtime and she was especially fussy that evening. I knew once she was in her stroller and we were walking, she'd be fine, but I felt so flustered and was trying to figure out a way to buy myself 15 minutes to get dressed and gulp down a quick meal. So, I caved. I put the movie in, and she was instantly calm. I got dressed and sat on the couch to watch her watch TV while I ate my dinner. I was incredibly surprised to see that instead of just sitting there like a lump on a log, she actually seemed to want to interact with the adorable characters floating in front of her. She'd kick, and laugh, and even gasp when the story seemed to get exciting. I started to think that perhaps letting your baby watch a little TV isn't that bad.

Now, it's part of our nightly routine. I pop it in for 15 minutes (ok, sometimes 20) right before our walk and it allows me to get a few things done without feeling like I need to rush like a madwoman because I've got a crying baby needing immediate attention. In fact, I'd go as far to say that ever since I've been incorporating TV, her evening fussy fits have greatly diminished. It seems to turn a switch on in her brain that tells her it's time to relax. So far, 101 Dalmatians is the only thing she seems to want to watch. She squeals with delight every time Pongo (the main dalmatian) comes on the screen. I tried Bambi, but it was a total bust. Another good sign, if you ask me. At least I know she's not captured by the television just because it's on.

So I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Do you guys let your babies/kids watch some TV from time to time? Or, maybe even a fair amount of TV because you truly just need a big break? Or, are you how I once was and wouldn't even imagine allowing it?

Photo, vanvandi


  1. Oh man the age old question..well of this century. As a therapist there is a BUTT LOAD of research showing any television, even the shows that are supposta help kids learn, impedes their brain development. We don't know why or what exactly causes this just that it does. So if you go by research keep it off...even if they can't "see" it (have done studies where it is up high where kids can only hear the television and still had similar results). Though on the other hand I was raised on television and I turned out okay. I also tend to turn Thomas the Train on when my friends' kids come over as well....just to get some time to make dinner and what not. So I guess you must ask yourself what does more harm: TV or a stressed out mom?

  2. I was exactly the same, didn't want her to watch TV at all. That changed! She was a very upset reflux baby and like L she was interested in just one film, Up. She's still obsessed with it now at 18 months. I have no idea why but it saved my sanity on many occasion. Other TV creeped in, especially being pregnant again and severely morning sick.

  3. While my kid wasn't interested in TV at all until she was almost 18 months, the DVDs of vintage Sesame Street she got for Christmas last year have been a godsend. I think too much TV for anyone (developing brain or not) is a bad thing but hot damn do I appreciate having a way to buy myself 30-60 minutes occasionally to shower, clean the house, wake-up, make a phone call, drive somewhere in relative quiet, etc. That said, I try to keep TV as a "treat" for now so it doesn't lose it's appeal too quickly.

  4. Westley in so enamored with the tv. We keep it off most of the time just because we only get basic cable so there isn't much on anyway.

    I think I am an everything in moderation kind of girl. So he will probably get to watch tv, but it will be a treat for short periods of time like you are doing.

    So cute that she squeals and seems to understand what is going on btw. Haha, love it.

  5. All in moderation. Especially if it's helping mom stay sane, too. My favs. are Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba. Giving the boys a 1/2 hour with them allows me to pull the house together and catch my breath. It's wonderful.

  6. I am with Lacy, if this helps keeps you sane and does the baby no major harm, I as a mom-to-be would say why not?!

  7. ooooh man. ok i am still idealist. i would LOVE to be able to go with what is recomended and have zero tv before 2.


    we will see what happens, right?

    also, i am really curious to know about screens in general.

    are they bad?

    ie if ben and henry are on the living room floor playing. and i am sitting here blogging, and henry is drawn to look at the moving screen.

    is that bad for him?


  8. I've been wondering the same thing about the computer screen. Our 5 month old hasn't seen any television but my husband and I are often on the computer. My son hasn't seemed interested in the computer screen but I'm curious if that will change. He sure loves my iPhone!