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TV Guidelines for Babies

Tough subject, lots of opinions here! But don’t follow the crowd just because, make up your mind for yourself, and get educated…as with anything. You’re the parent and you need to do what’s best for you and your family.

TV for kids. I’m specifically addressing newborn through 2 years old. 

TV Guidelines for Babies


The current recommendation via the American Academy of Pediatrics is ZERO, NANA, NONE, ZIP, NO television viewing at all for kids under 2. 

NONE.  GASP you say!!!

I have to say, I whole heartedly agree with that. Don’t get me wrong..there is a time or 2 in a pinch (you’re on a super important call and you know 5 minutes of puppies on Netflix will keep them occupied) where I personally think it’s acceptable. That may be once a month or less. I’m ok with that level, 5 mins per month.

Their tiny brains are growing exponentially more from zero to 2 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!

TV is an entertainment tool, its not a life necessity. Personally in our household, we own a TV..yup. However, I maybe watch 1 hour of TV a week…if that, and it might be a stretch?!?! And it would be turned on in the background. Most weeks, its not ever turned on. And hey, I’m surviving life ok!  We certainly 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 freaking care!!

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 a 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.

The issue is less of that the content or speed (although its 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!

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. 

Here are my tips:

-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 realllllly need to get through a pinch. 

-Let them play independently and just explore. They don’t have to be entertained all day long.  Down time 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 care givers. Underline the words as you read them, and enjoy taking a moment to bond. 

-Sing, talk through everything you’re doing, or involve them in what you’re doing. 

For us..Grandpa seems to be the hardest to work with my guidelines…but we are trying.  🙂

Grandpas are the hardest!


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. Instead, he’ll sit with his stack of books and babble on to himself. BLISS!  I totally understand this will be challenging if and when we bring other kids into our world..but we will cross that bridge when we get there. 😉

Book time!  IMG_0437

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…why would you give your baby media junk when their system can’t process it the right way.  In due time, don’t rush it please! 



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