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family

Baby and TV.

Children under age 2 should not watch TV or videos. Too much TV may negatively affect early brain development.

televisionSo sayeth Kaiser Permanente, following the advice of? the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, pundits have been saying for years how detrimental television is to young minds. But this is old news. A study entitled Television Viewing in Infancy and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age in a US Cohort published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2009 suggests that the effects are neutral. In an article I found at WebMD.com, they summarize the interesting outcome of the study:

Researchers found that children who watched TV as infants did not reap any language or visual motor skills benefits by age 3, compared with children who did not watch TV. But watching TV did not appear to harm their development either, once researchers took other factors into account.

Preliminary results showed increased TV viewing was associated with poorer scores on these tests, but those effects disappeared after controlling for factors known to affect babies’ mental development, such as mother’s age, education, household income, and marital status.

The fact is, many exhausted parents count on at least a little bit of TV (or videos) to entertain the baby while they get important chores done around the house. Generations of babies have grown up with TV and are no worse for the experience. I would never claim that this activity is better than human interaction, or any kind of substitute for it. However, I think that Kaiser’s suggested outright ban may be giving too many parents a guilty conscience about letting the baby watch a little bit each day.

Here’s how I feel about it: Talk to your baby, snuggle him and dance with him and play with him. Read him books and do puppet shows with his toys. Tickle him and massage him with baby lotion. Sooth him when he cries and make up silly songs for him. Give him tummy time and back time and sit-up time. Do these things daily, then relax for a short while and let him be entertained by something else (like TV) while you recharge your batteries. He won’t be harmed by it, and you can get the break you need to stay lively and engaged with him.

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