Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I Let My 3-Month-Old Watch TV

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babywatchingtvAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

I’ll come right out and say it: I’ve always loved TV, and I’ve never been ashamed of it. Sitcoms, dramas, procedurals, reality shows, reruns… I don’t discriminate. When people brag about how they don’t have cable or don’t even own a TV, I feel nothing but pity for them. Yes, it’s great to read books and play games and go on walks and cook dinner and have, you know, conversations — but it’s also pretty awesome to come home after a rough day at the office and watch Monday Night Football.

In short, TV and I were already good friends before my son was born last June. After we brought our baby boy home from the hospital, though, the magic talk-box took on a whole new level of importance in our lives.

During that first crazy week, when we weren’t desperately trying to figure out how to take care of our squalling little bundle, we treated ourselves to DVDs of “Dexter” and “Homeland.” In between naps, pumping, and constant diaper changes, it was a pleasant reminder that outside our walls, a very different and very adult world still turned.

My son was a preemie, and so he spent a lot of daylight hours sleeping in those early weeks — even more so than many other newborns. For the most part, he’d only wake up to eat every two or three hours (and even then, he quickly found his “autopilot sleep-feeding” mode).

Overnight, though, his eyes would pop wide open after a feeding, and he’d start fussing immediately after he was put down in his bassinet. Our adorable son had his days and nights mixed up. To help reset his tiny internal clock, both Dr. Google and my actual pediatrician (in no particular order) suggested that I make a concerted effort to differentiate daytime from nighttime. During the day, that meant lots of lights on and all of the usual noises — including the TV. As soon as we got up in the morning, the TV went on, and it stayed on until it was time to start winding down for bed. Doctor’s orders!

So there we sat, the two of us, every day — “us,” meaning me and my TV — and I felt personally blessed by MTV’s decision to rerun “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” in their entirety. As my beautiful little buddy napped on my chest, I rededicated myself to #TeamLC, and I wondered if I, like Brody Jenner, might one day forge a career built entirely around being a reality-show remora.

Eventually, the day/night reprogramming paid off. Around the same time, like a switch flipping on, our sleepy little guy turned into an impressively robust baby. In short order, he grew out of his preemie gear, and then out of his newborn onesies — and soon, he was sporting three-month sleepers as I put him down in his bassinet at the very reasonable hour of 10:30 p.m. (You know… on a good day.) Meanwhile, during the day, he was starting to respond to stimuli, and trying to interact with the world around him.

We first noticed him looking at the TV shortly before my 12-week maternity leave was over. It was dinnertime for us grown-ups, so my husband placed Junior in his motorized swing and turned on the overhead mobile to keep him occupied. After watching the birdies circle his head for several minutes, my son casually turned his head… and caught the TV winking back at him. The bright colors and moving shapes held his gaze as we finished our baked potatoes. At the time, it was a hilarious novelty — “Look, he loves “Top Chef”!” we giggled.

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