Babies Don’t Need Television (At All)

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The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is no television viewing at all for kids under 2. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

This is a tough subject, and there are lots of opinions here, but don’t follow the crowd just because. Get educated and make up your mind for yourself, as with anything. You’re the parent and you need to do what’s best for you and your family.

Really no tv for kids under 2?

NONE. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time or two in a pinch (you’re on a super important call and you know five minutes of puppies on Netflix will keep them occupied) where I personally think it’s acceptable. That may be once a month or less and I’m ok with that level, five minutes per month.

But why?

Their tiny brains are growing exponentially more from zero to two than ANY OTHER TIME IN THEIR LIFE! Don’t fill it with empty junk. If you’re an organic-only, cloth diapering, vinegar-using, sign-language slinging kind of mama (and even if you’re not) you’re filling their lives with the goods, no toxic junk right? So why would you fill their minds, their most important asset, with junk? More on this HERE.

TV is an entertainment tool,  not a life necessity. In our household, we own a TV, but I maybe watch one hour of TV a week, if that. Most weeks, it’s not ever turned on, and hey, I’m surviving life ok! We don’t have cable and never will. I’m mildly intrigued about once every other year for 5 minutes what the Kardashians are doing and then I realize I don’t actually care!!

Really?

There are lots of studies that show the more advanced the degree, the less TV people watch. Or the more TV one watches, the higher the likelihood of being in debt, depressed/ill, and living in poverty. Also, some showing an inverse correlation in the amount of TV a child watches and the academic and social success they have. There was even a class-action lawsuit in 2009 against Baby Einstein claiming babies and children who watched these programs were, in fact, stalling development and not increasing their brain development as they thought the company was claiming their products would do.

I mean, if you’ve ever watched a baby zero-in and zone out, turn into a complete zombie when you pop on Baby Einstein, just think what their little brain is doing. Now think about when you read to them, and underline the words as you speak them, and point to pictures and engage them, what do you think their brain is doing?  I’ll take the latter.

And what else?

The issue is less of that the content or speed (although it’s been thought that the unusually fast-paced scenarios of TV do a disservice to the developing brain since they are just trying to learn ‘real-time’ sequences first as babies), but more of what they are missing out on during TV time: reading alone or with an adult, interaction with others, talking, listening, singing, playing and figuring their world out, human touch, outdoor play, the list goes on.

The place your little tikes are at during the day may influence how much TV they watch too. In-home daycare (which at my first glance would mean zero TV, lots of one on one interaction, reading and outdoors) on average ups the amount of TV they are watching vs a center-based daycare program. Curious! More on this HERE.

Our little guy will sit and read by himself for 45 minutes at a time….at 16 months. It gives me just as much freedom and sticking on the boob tube and letting him zone out. He’ll sit with his stack of books and babble to himself. BLISS!

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Television will no doubt play a role in their lives, and we won’t deny them!  They have the rest of their lives, after 2, to be inundated by media and entertainment messages. We will not shield them from it, I don’t think that’s wise!! But certainly not unlimited access and unlimited time. 

So how do we make the change?

  • Let all your caregivers know your policy:  NO TV or devices (it doesn’t matter if its on a phone or iPad – same thing!) at all before age 2. Not even on in the background. 
  • Be judicious when you do have to use it. Save your 5 minutes for when you really need to get through a pinch. 
  • Let them play independently and just explore. They don’t have to be entertained all day long.  Downtime and quiet time is just as important for those pathways to grow. 
  • Have loads of books available for them. You can pick them up for next to nothing at consignment shops and garage sales. 
  • Read to them 1 hour per day! I know that seems like a lot, but break it up and split it between caregivers. Underline the words as you read them, and enjoy taking a moment to bond. 
  • Sing, talk through everything you’re doing and involve them in your activities. 

We will increase our level of technology and TV later in life, no doubt about that, so I don’t feel like I am denying him ANYTHING at all by doing this. We are a tech family but work hard to put limits on things so we don’t miss out on the REALNESS of life.

You wouldn’t give your baby booze, because their little systems can’t process it the right way, so why would you give your baby media junk when their system can’t process it the right way?

 

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I’m the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever met. I’m happiest curled up reading and not talking to anyone. But, find immense reward in taking BOLD chances. My background is as a physician - I am a hardcore science nerd, spending my former years attending medical school and being all things “doctor.” Then I traveled the country with my husband being an official baseball wife - which is hilariously not glamorous. Once back in Dayton, spent a few years as a personal trainer working with clients suffering from cancer, chronic illness, and the “I can’t do it syndrome.” In 2014 I co-founded Kate’s Plate, which is a healthy cooking service here to transform lives and the way we do family dinner. Also, I am the ‘CEO’ of Beyond The Game Sports Training, my hubby’s sports facility, and teach healthy cooking classes at Dororthy Lane Market’s Culinary Center. I very much struggle to switch modes from balls-out entrepreneur to gentle mommy mode on the daily. My son, Cooper, is 1 and a spitting image of his father, Jeff. He is obsessed with his grandpa and has the darndest little smirk. Jeff and I are Centerville natives, and came back here to plant our roots and give back to the place who made us who we are today. Random facts: I hate to shop, I eat a lot of butter, I'm a hippie at heart, I’ve taken flying lessons, I don’t watch TV or do Pinterest (gasp!!) Favorite things about being motherhood: Nursing (calorie burning bonus, hello!), watching daddy make the kid laugh so hard he can barely breathe, and the way the moments of parenting bring me back down to earth, back to the here and now