Childrearing

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

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After that first accidental encounter, the TV viewing became a regular, though always very brief, occurrence. Whenever Tiny spent any amount of time in his swing, he would inevitably let his head loll to the left for a few minutes so he could see what “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” were bickering about. Then, he would either turn his attention back to his birdie mobile, or he’d give up entirely and succumb to a nap.

One night, however, he watched a whole episode of “Breaking Bad.” (I know, I know. That’s why I’m writing this anonymously, OK?) He normally would have been nursing at that time, but instead he was wide awake and not at all hungry. Meanwhile, I really needed to watch one of the final episodes of my favorite show, and we don’t have a DVR. I happened to have him side-saddle on my lap, where he could easily turn his head and see the set… which he did. He fixed on the images flashing across the screen — and then stayed there, staring calmly, for the full hour. I did cover his eyes during the gun fight, though, because I wanted to protect my candidacy for Mom of the Year.

In fairness, the “Breaking Bad” episode was a one-time deal. He was calm, relaxed, and content throughout, so I figured all was well — but I also know, from pure common sense, that infants shouldn’t park it in front of the TV as a general rule. And, like most babies his age, he doesn’t typically want to sit and do anything for an hour at a time, anyway, so it’s a moot point.

I never really thought twice about his (mostly) incidental viewing until I learned that I’m doing IRREPARABLE DAMAGE to my son’s development, thanks to a few links I stumbled across while researching baby milestones.

” … [B]abies and even toddlers (ages 0 to 2 years old) shouldn’t get any screen time at all — zero, not even a few minutes here and there,” cautioned one site. The justification was pretty obvious — if a baby’s watching TV, he’s not developing his language or motor skills.

Another site, meanwhile, acknowledged that “watching TV is better than starving,” but that’s as far as the favorable comparisons went. This warning was considerably more dire, noting that even if I have the TV on as background noise — which is, ahem, always — I risk screwing up my boy’s language skills, reading ability, attention span, memory, sleep cycle, and (let’s just say it) chances of getting into Baby Yale.

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