What’s your take on TV for babies under two?

Talking about my “sick day” aka occupying myself and Timothy with a couple of Christmas movies to make up for my lack of energy to entertain Timothy, I found myself talking out of both sides of my mouth, or however that expression goes.

Overall, I am against TV. We don’t even have cable. I used to waste hours upon hours in front of TV, watching Prison Break, House, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance – and reruns of Friends, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens. Occasionally, some trashier shows like Top Model and Bachelorette. I hated them, but watched them anyway. Television is hypnotizing, it sucks you in and then next thing you know – time to go to bed.

Well, at the time that was my escape strategy, I believe. Escaping the reality that I didn’t enjoy much. Since I escaped that reality in real life and changed my life for the better, there was no need for TV any longer. I disconnected the cable and felt liberated, Free. No more hurrying home to catch an 8 pm show. No more having to waste 2 hours in a row watching something. Ahhhh, bliss.

But then I love movies. More than anything, I love watching the same feel-good movies, over and over again. You got mail. What women want. Sweet home Alabama. Love actually. Family Stone. The wedding date. Etc, etc, etc. I have three shelves worth of feel-good movies and cartoons (Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, etc.) I love, love, love watching them. And I don’t see any harm in watching a dvd once a week or so.

Enter Timothy.

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

There are recommendations that babies under two years of age aren’t supposed to be watching TV at all. I am not sure why, but my overall feeling is that this recommendation is the same as “pregnant and nursing women should not drink alcohol”. I mean, yes – vodka shots are not advisable :), but from all the extensive reading I did on the topic, it seems like an occasional glass of red wine poses no risk (and some even say it’s good for you). And dark beer, supposedly, increases you milk production. Go figure.

My guess is that “they” don’t trust people to be able to apply moderation. To stop after that one glass of wine. To turn off TV after 30 minutes. They worry that we will turn TV into an easy way to neglect our babies for days on end.

Timothy doesn’t watch TV every day. Well, he doesn’t watch TV – he watches DVDs. Baby Einstein episodes. They are short, they were designed for babies, and they help me get some stuff around the house done on those days when Timothy doesn’t feel like playing on his own for a short little while. I don’t see any harm in that.

And on a few occasions, when I felt too tired and sick, I watched my grown-up movies (romantic comedies… nothing scary :)) and let Timothy “watch” those with me. It felt nice and companionable. I like watching movies together – I feel, for whatever reason, that this shared experience draws family members together. But only if we are actually watching stuff together, not zombyfying ourselves for lack of something else to do.

Again, I feel that screen time for Timothy is under control and do not feel worried.

What’s your take on TV for babies under two? What are your beliefs? What do you/do you not allow?


15 thoughts on “What’s your take on TV for babies under two?

  1. Nadinka

    As far as I know, reason TV is not recommended for babies is because they do not recognize the fact that its not real (people or actions). By whatching it their brain understands (creates in their mind) different reality of some sort. I think you’ve see it yourself when Timothy thought person on the screen was real and truer to interactive with him.

    When they grow up they might adjust understanding of the world and everything will be fine. Or might not and will develop some wired understanding of it. will. be fine

    1. newtorontomom Post author

      How is it different from watching puppet show, then? Kind of the same idea – puppets in a window, not real… I don’t know. I think if the TV is on non-stop, then this might be a problem, but if it’s an occasional thing?..

      1. Nadinka

        I am not sure how is it different, but somehow it is. Too realistic may be?
        I don’t have an answer for you and don’t think anybody does. It’s not like you can take the very same baby, duplicate it and see how s/he will develop with and without TV

  2. Alias M.

    We used to let my baby watch the Nickelodeon channel in my parents’ home to keep him from getting bored and which allowed us to take a breather, but I am sure he is not learning anything from Spongebob (even if I like him) and the Fairly Oddparents, so we stopped and bought DVDs of Sesame Street which he really loves. I remember that I learned a lot from Sesame Street when I was a kid and I don’t remember having an issue with distinguishing what was real or wasn’t. I am hoping that he would learn, too. My concern is how to keep him from watching too much because he really seemed to be mesmerized by the singing. Initially, he would protest when I would turn off the TV but lately, when it was time for bedtime, told him that Elmo will go to sleep and that he had to say byebye and goodnight to Elmo. He seemed to understand. He waved goodbye to the TV and he did not even protest when I turned it off.

      1. Alias M.

        I can’t remember anymore, but I do know it was during my toddler years because I don’t think I watched it anymore when I started pre school.

  3. Alias M.

    Too young! At six months, just so, as you said, we could get some stuff around the house done. Thankfully, he didn’t get too addicted to it, maybe because he couldn’t appreciate it yet back then. With someone like me in the house who loves to watch TV series (I do choose what I watch, I don’t zombify myself, haha, although it is tempting sometimes), I am certain that it is inevitable that he would love TV too someday. I do would like to put it across him that TV should be treated as a medium for learning and is not a means to encourage indolence or even zombification!

  4. Jay Dee

    We have cable, but hardly ever watch it. Tomoe is actually not very interested in TV, though we have had her watching Baby TV, which is mostly swirling colours and shapes with soft music. She does love to watch videos of herself on my phone, though 🙂

  5. babiesandus

    I also read that it is not good for babies to watch TV, but what i read said that they should not watch more than a hour TV a day because it will make them loose touch with reality. I don’t want Kyra to watch TV yet or sit for long amounts of time in front of the TV but do admit that when it is close to supper time and she is difficult I would switch the TV on for 5 – 10 minutes to allow me to get her supper ready. We don’t ever want Kyra to spend time in front of the TV and only want to introduce movies when she is older.
    Buuuuuut I notice now that she is crawling I am able to distract her with other things. I also give her random things to play with to distract her like sun hats, or tupperware, or old magazines etc. This normally keeps her busy for a while as well.

    1. newtorontomom Post author

      Now, that makes sense. I can see how watching too much TV can confuse the hell out of an adult – forget about babies!

      Just like I said – moderation is key. Banning anything altogether from one’s life is rarely the right strategy, I find. Unless we’re talking cocaine 🙂 🙂 🙂


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