Questions of television and babies

Here is a question that came up in my Yahoo Group “Teach Your Baby To Read in 90 Seconds a Day”.  Below is my answer.
Dear all,

I know that the TV topic is not the main one for this forum but I’d like to ask you something.

I’m a first-time parent of a little girl of 3 months now, but we recently discovered that when we put her in front ot the TV to watch Baby Einstein or the Ceebies from the BBC she gets really excited.

How do I know? She starts moving her arms and legs more than usual, she cooes and she barely takes her eyes off the screen.

The question for you, more experienced parents and educators out there is: how healthy is to let the baby watch this?

Is there any rule of thumb as to how much time should we allow her to watch TV?

In your own experience, have you got any good results from following this practice with educational/
instructional programs?

Thank you in advance for your comments/feedback.
This is a very controversial subject you are bringing up, but I will tell you my opinion and experiences.
Many children, including babies are attracted to the television, as you are noticing with your baby.  I think this can be wonderful for parents who need to get things done but have no help with their babies.  However, the content that they watch is very important.  One study states that by first grade children have viewed over 5,000 hours of television.  That has a huge impact on your child.  What was the content?  That is an important question to ask.
When I became a first time mom, over 13 years ago, my baby was very demanding.  She knew I was a rookie and some days I could barely take a shower.  My sister-in-law came to visit and told me her 4 month old liked to watch television.  I thought that was highly unlikely, but she proved me wrong.  She brought me a video cassette with four Sesame Street videos on it.  I was amazed that my 2 month old would pay attention.  I was thrilled  that I could not not have to listen to her scream if I needed to cook dinner or take a shower.  She would usually scream the entire time I set her down.  Imagine my excitement when I realized I could use the television as my helper.
Not knowing about any controversy with television I would let her watch up to two hours a day at times.  Granted, I believe that is too much, now, however she learned her ABC’s and how to count.  I didn’t know babies could learn to read back then, but I taught her all kinds of things and she was very bright for her age.  I felt that she could learn anything from the television because she loved it so much.  I looked for all kinds of things to show her, so her viewing time was beneficial.
She does not suffer ADD or ADHD or anything like that.  The only negative effect I notice is that she loves to watch movies. We are not a big television viewing family.  We primarily use it to keep the little ones out of trouble if we need to do something.  As a family we watch movies and concerts occasionally.  
I have 6 children and none of them are television junkies.  They enjoy watching a movie and if we do turn the television on they all migrate over there, but that is common.  On a weekly basis we might watch 2-3 hours of television.
Now, as for my favorites, if you are going to have a baby watch television, make it beneficial.  You can get videos that will teach your baby to read such as ours Monki See Monki Doo and Your Baby Can Read.  The Signing Time videos are wonderful.  They teach sign language to babies and have great music.  Little Pim will teach your baby foreign language.  I really like Baby Einstien for the imagery and the music, and of course the puppet scenes, but they lack as far as content to teach your baby very much.
In my experience, once you let your baby watch shows that are more entertaining, such as Dora the Explorer and such, they will not be as receptive to watching some of the above mentioned choices.
I hope this has been helpful.  Let me wrap this up by saying that I love to have the option of using the television with my small children, up to an hour a day, broken up in 2 segments.  As an adult that watched a lot of television as a child, I don’t care much for television.  I feel it is a time drainer.  Maybe I got my fill as a child and now I somewhat loathe just sitting in front of the television unless it is a specific program I want to see.


Results for ABC Hide and Seek

I have been playing with magnetic letters a lot this week.  We are having so much fun.  I really like magnetic letters because I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen so we play this pretty often.  I have introduced the letters A, M, N and o so far.  My 2 year old is learning the sounds and the names of the letters.  I helped her find the letters at first, and gave her hints.  Now she can pick out the letters so quickly.  I have two sets of the alphabet on my fridge, so there are 104 letters for her to choose from.  I am amazed at how fast she can pick them out.  Once she pulls the letters out, we place them spaced out on the floor and she hops over them as she says the sounds.  We have been able to form the word am from the first two letters taught and we review that as well.  This game is definitely a hit in my home.

Telling a Story With Word Cards

No sooner did I finish my blog post about using word cards to tell a story to your child than my 2 year old came to see me with a stack of word cards.  It was like she had a sixth sense about her.  So we sat down on the floor and I made up a story using the words she brought me.  I would place two cards side by side and each time I said one of them I would pause and wait for her to hand me the correct word. She got almost all of them right, handing me the word card of the word i had just said whenever I paused.  As soon as we finished the first story, she said, “Again.”

I proceeded making up stories and having her choose the correct word cards.  It was a lot of fun for both of us.  Even my 4 year old came over to hear the stories.  It is much easier to create stories on demand when you can build it around certain words.  I find I draw a blank sometimes when the children ask me to tell them a story.  This method had the stories just flowing with no delays.  I will definitely continue this game all week and see where it leads us.

Interview Your Baby

If you have a video camera, you should interview your baby.  You can do this as soon as your baby is able to speak.  The answers they give are precious, making this a keepsake for all times.  I have many videos of my kids when they were small.  I would sit them down and ask them questions such as:

What is your name?
Where do you live?
How old are you?
You can start to ask questions  that are more involved to see what kind of answers they give.  You can ask them things such as :
What is mommy’s job?
What is daddy’s job?
Where did you come from?
The possibilities are endless.  Do this at different ages and see how your child’s answers change.  It is a lot of fun.

Inventive Play for Babies

My daughter just recently turned two.  For a long time, she wouldn’t let me read to her.  She is very independent and wanted to hold the book and turn the pages before it was time.  Through library trips and continual effort, she has developed the ability to sit still and listen to stories.  She loves to be read to now.  She asks for stories all the time and will listen to many in one sitting.

Reading stories to my child has helped her develop her imagination.  She has fallen in love with a book called, A Very Noisy GIrl.  In the book, the little girl, who is very noisy, disappears, and in her place is a puppy that is very quiet.  She is just pretending to be the puppy and spends the afternoon as a puppy with her mother, while her mother wonders where her little girl is.
This story, among others, has sparked some creative play in my child.  She likes to pretend she is a kitty cat and at other times a dog.  It helps her tap into her imagination and be anything.  Children are usually blessed with good imaginations in abundance, until life beats it out of them.  Have you noticed that some of the world’s greatest people never lost their ability to imagine?  Walt Disney is a perfect example.

Rhyme Time With Dr. Seuss

When my son was around 20 months old, I read him a lot of Dr. Seuss books.  Those books are silly, and take rhyming to a whole new level.  When we were done, we would make up our own rhyming phrases to continue on in the spirit of the book.  I began to notice that my son was answering me in rhyme throughout the day.  If I asked him a question that warranted a yes answer he would say, “Yes, pess is a bess.”  If I asked him a question that warranted a no answer he would say, “No, poe is a foe.”  This went on for a short period of time and it cracked me up.  Let’s just say he understood how to rhyme perfectly.  I would quickly explain to those who heard him do this that we had been enjoying Dr. Seuss lately and this was one of the results.  Why not have some fun playing rhyming games with your child?  It is never too early to get silly and have some fun with language.

Play With Foam Letters

In order to give babies an advantage in learning language, we need to have some clear goals as parents.  It is not difficult to teach our babies written language and letter recognition.  We just need to realize that our babies are capable of learning these things and structure our play around them.

This can be accomplished easily by having toys with letters and numbers on them.  I recently purchased some foam bath letters for my children.  I do not intend to use them in the bathtub, but we are having a great time playing with them on the floor.  We build ABC trains with the letters.  We play rhyming games, too. 
This is what is meant by structured play.  My child doesn’t care if we are playing with letters or dolls.  She is happy to be playing with her mama.  She loves that she has focused attention on her.  She is having so much fun, she probably doesn’t even realize that she is learning something.  For babies, learning is play.  Keep this in mind when purchasing toys for your child.

Bath Time Lessons

Today’s post has nothing to do with teaching babies to read.  It does, however, deal with learning lessons, and today, I was the one who learned something.

My 2 year old wanted to wash the dishes.  Since I had already finished washing the dishes, I offered to let her wash her play dishes in the bathtub, while she took a bath.  She took me up on my offer and we filled the tub.  Her bedroom is right next to the bathroom so I decided I should tackle the mess in the there while she played in the tub.  What can I say?  I am a woman that likes to multitask.  Most days I ignore the mess that a 2 year old can create because of lack of time to clean it, but it was getting out of control and I needed to feel a bit of order in my life.  
I could hear my daughter talking and singing as I went about organizing drawers and hanging up dress up clothes.  I was feeling quite proud of my accomplishments, until I walked out of the bedroom to put something away.  It was then that I learned my lesson.  The lesson I learned was don’t leave your child alone in the bathtub without checking on them every two minutes, even if you can hear them singing and playing.  It is not because of fear of her drowning that I need to check on her, it is for fear of her drowning me that I need to check on her. As I walked out of the bedroom, I could see a small lake pooling up at the entrance of the bathroom.  She had been dumping cupfuls of water on her princess, who was standing on the edge of the tub.
The lesson I am continually reminded of in regards to life with kids is that as soon as you clean one mess up, they have another one waiting for you.  
Gabriella the mischief maker.

Feed Your Baby’s Imagination

Imagination is at the heart of all creativity.  It is very difficult to be creative with little imagination.  So how can we feed our baby’s imagination?  Simple.  It starts by reading good books to your baby.  When you share great stories, fairy tales and adventures with your child, you are feeding their imagination.  What happens after you read books together is also important.  You should show your child how you can use your own imagination.  You can use a broomstick as a horse, hide under your covers from a big bear, which may just be a teddy bear, and save the princess from the dragon, which may be invisible.

In our interactions with our children, we can teach them how to use their imaginations through reading and our own examples. An imagination is a wonderful thing to have.  It can turn the dull into the exciting.  Children with great imaginations create their own worlds and entertain themselves for hours.  Read your child a book and feed their imagination.

Books – Baby’s Best Friend

I took my children to the library today.  I have been reading to my 2 year old a lot lately.  I have introduced her to many of my favorite books.  She has acquired a love of reading lately and I am glad.  She is very independent and likes to do most things herself.  This included her taking the book midway through and reading it herself.  She has now gotten accustomed to listening to a story all the way through and asking for it again and again.  

I wish I could sit and read to my children all day.  I love to read!  I love good books, too.  Tonight at the library she found The Runaway Bunny.  She was so excited.  We recently read this book and she really liked it.  She was hugging the book and insisted on getting it again.  When you surround your child with books and read to them frequently, books become their best friends.