Television and Babies
By Vicki Thrasher Cronin
Licensed Parent Educator, Pre-K Teacher
The first three years of life are the most critical years in a child’s life. Right now your child is building the foundation for his brain and the cells, called neurons. Your baby needs to see your face, hear your voice and be engaged in his world through you. While “It may be tempting to put your infant or toddler in front of the television, especially to watch shows created just for children under age two, the American Academy of Pediatrics says: ‘Don't do it!’” (National Institute of Media and the Family) Your baby needs you more than toys or any media experience you could purchase.
Babies’ brains are developing and wiring at an amazing rate. Your baby’s brain gets “wired” as a result of what he does. Everything you do with your baby, everything, is important. He is counting on you to be his partner in making your relationship his brain “gym.” Talking, singing, reading and telling stories are the exercise activities you can do with your baby. When your baby smiles at you and coos at you, he is reinforcing your closeness. Your baby is telling you, “Hold me close so I can see you talk, hear you sing and feel your joy.” This is the message in your baby’s smile. You are your baby’s first teacher. Share your world with your baby and your baby will learn the words he needs to talk, to read, to listen and to learn. Follow your baby’s lead. His curiosity to learn will gradually ready him to enjoy swinging, listening to music and your voice near by. Stretched out on the floor your baby will exercise his body and begin to reach for objects near by. Playing on his tummy will extend his learning circle and strengthen his body as he lifts his head and learns to reach for and crawl to objects near by. As he learns to sit, he will explore the objects near by, calling you for help when frustrated. Your baby learns that you are the key to his exploration of the world all around him. TV time does not allow for exploration. There is no doing in TV time.
What babies and toddlers do is what wires their brains. The science of early brain development tells us that screen time does not contribute to school readiness; face time does. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that “any positive effect of television on infants and toddlers is still open to question, but the benefits of parent-child interactions are proven.”
Face time builds your relationship with your baby. You are the foundation builder for your baby’s brain. There is no limit on face time! You cannot talk, read, sing and rhyme too much!