Television for Tots

I had a recent conversation with someone (I honestly can’t remember who) during which the individual asked me what television shows I had Bitsy Girl watching. This question really took me by surprise. First of all, we don’t have cable service at our house. It was a simple budget issue: we had to choose between internet service or cable television, and needless to say, we chose internet without hesitation. For us, it has so many more uses than just entertainment. But that isn’t the only reason I was surprised to be asked about my daughter’s television watching habits. Bitsy Girl is just about 16 months and is still fascinated by the world around her. What I find mundane, she finds fascinating. This girl lives moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, and gets endless entertainment out of a stuffed cat the giggles when you squeeze its paw. I don’t find it necessary to turn on both visual and auditory stimulation that she doesn’t need to keep her content. At each of Bitsy Girl’s pediatrician visits we go home with a sheet of paper that tells us her height and weight, some developmental milestones for this age, and some tips on how to parent this age. Most of these “tips” are so obvious that I find myself thinking, duh. Of course. For her fifteen month visit, one parenting tip was to limit screen time (tv or computer) to an hour per day. And as usual, I thought, well of course. Too much tv is bad for little children. Apparently this is not common knowledge, though. Upon further research I found that the American Association of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of two. And if I am going to trust any opinion, an entire association of medical doctors who specialize in children would be that opinion. I do understand that for some the television is an excellent way to get some alone time during the day. A mom or dad can turn on a cartoonu and get an hour without Junior clammering for all of their attention. But I think that there are others ways to get your toddler to play independently. I definitely don’t sit and play with Bitsy Girl all day. I have housework to do, and I have other things to get done for Beard or myself. In an average 12 workday for Beard, I probably spend only an hour or two just playing with Bitsy Girl, not including time I am caring for her (bathing, feedinxg, changing). That means Bitsy Girl has some time during the day (other than napping) when she is responsible for her own entertainment. She has plenty of board books and toys, but nothing too extravagant. I am not a big fan of noisy toys, so most of her things are stuffed animals, stacking cups, and some push toys. I have never noticed Bitsy Girl to have any problems entertaining.g herself for at least a half an hour or more at a time, and as long as I keep an ear out for crashes, bangs, or other scary noises, I am free to do other things around the house. Needless to say, I manage to find time to get things done without exposing the Bits to too much screen time. It can be done, folks. Of course there are those days when it seems nothing else will work. Toys won’t amuse her, and even Bruno’s antics aren’t funny anymore. For those days, instead of throwing in a video I choose to play with and read to my daughter more that day.

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