Guilt About Babies Watching TV

Experts say babies watching TV is a bad thing. But what do you do when you have a "spirited" infant who refuses pacifiers and is calmed by the boob tube?

As Cara wrote earlier, she has a spirited toddler in her daughter, Zoe. With Owen, I have a spirited infant.

His moods are mercurial. One minute he’s beaming his two-tooth grin, the next his lower lip is quivering, one minute he’s squealing with delight, the next he’s screaming in frustration. One might say he’s quite like his mommy in his many mood changes, and I can’t say I disagree.

I’ve discovered that there are two things that always calm my spirited baby—the vacuum and the Baby Einstein Baby Beethoven DVD.

Most people use a pacifier to calm a fussy infant, I have the vacuum. When I try to give Owen a pacifier, most times he spits it out in pure anger and gets this look on his face as if to say, “How DARE you shove this plastic thing in my mouth!”

So when most moms simply pop the pacifier back in their baby’s mouth to keep them sleeping or calm their fussiness, I turn on the vacuum. Owen loves the Swiffer Sweep n’ Vac best, but unfortunately its rechargeable battery doesn’t last very long. We used to swear by our Kirby, but we actually broke the motor on that vacuum.

We even bought a vacuum noise on CD, but our little O-ster can definitely tell the difference between “real” and “canned” vacuum, and “canned” vacuum just will not do.

So, I don’t mind running the one vacuum we have left at all times of the day and night, but when I’m working at home, calling in to a meeting, and O is fussing, running the vacuum in the background just won’t do. So then, I have to resort to the Baby Beethoven DVD. I’ve heard about an AAP report on babies watching TV that says children under 2 shouldn’t watch TV, and it makes me feel guilty when I let O watch his DVD.

But then I looked at the article a little closer.

“Babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills,” the policy says.

I figure Owen watches about 30 minutes of TV a week, if that. The rest of the time he is either eating, sleeping, or playing (interacting) with mom, dad, or his care givers at daycare.

So I’m hoping he is getting the interaction he needs, and I’m not rotting his brain with television. Plus, it’s set to a track of Beethoven music, so it can’t be all bad, right?

12 thoughts on “Guilt About Babies Watching TV

  1. Cassie has been a “TV Head” practically since she was born. She just is fascinated by all those moving images and funny sounds. She particularly enjoys the weather and traffic reports on the news.

    What can I say? Jay and I watch TV, like most red-blooded Americans, and Cassie is with us. But I try to assauge my guilt about it by interacting with her while the TV is on. We don’t just park her in front of the boob tube and go about our business. We talk to her, play with her, etc. I really doubt it’s going to make her any less of a genius!

  2. I’m guilty of letting Dora the Explorer keep my little one out of my hair while I get a few things done. I feel guilty, but hey – she can count in Spanish!

    Quick story, though: I let her watch TV one day while I sat in on a conference call. The show was a PBS thing she loves called “The Big Comfy Couch.” When I hung up the phone and went to check on her, she was in tears. I turned to the show, and it was all about a caterpillar that had died. The characters were burying it in their yard. Little One kept saying, “The Cayacopper! It’s sleeping! The Cayacopper won’t wake up!” Gee, thanks, Big Comfy Couch, I really wanted to try and explain death to my two-year-old on a Tuesday morning while I’m working from home!

  3. Back when my spirited 8-year-old was a spirited infant, the only thing that would calm her was the song “Jessie’s Girl” on my Boogie Nights soundtrack.


    And Over.

    And Over.

  4. I can’t say that I didn’t depend on TV at times to ‘babysit’ when you were young, not so much as an infant but more as a toddler. It so happens you had a brother and sister when you were a toddler and you either ‘escaped’ to TV to get away from the din, or as I like to think were actually learning something from the programs you were watching. Since you only watched what passed as educational programming at that time, I think that you probably gleaned alot from what you watched. Well, honestly you didn’t turn out so bad….

  5. just4ofus says:

    We make sure that the kids get no more than 2 hours a day of screen time (and this includes my son’s new love for We don’t turn it on the minute they get up or in the evening. It is our rule. But there are times that the TV is a wonderful way to get them out of your hair while you get stuff done or need a break.
    This is one of the many things we will feel guilty about (are we or aren’t we doing it right or enough) as parents. I don’t think the DVD will kill Owen’s brain cells and don’t let anyone tell you it will. : )

  6. I think as long as the programs are educational and that they are not watching them for hours on end, that it is perfectly fine to let your children watch a little tv. My oldest has learned a lot from programs like Dora and Zaboomafoo.

  7. I’m so guilty of letting my kids watch too much TV. One time we tried “no-TV nights” for at least two days of the week. I really need to get that going again.

    Hey, maybe now you have an excuse to get the Dyson vaccum we’ve both wanted! It’s for the baby…

  8. Before our four month old, Lily, came along I heard stories about parents burning up vaccuum cleaners and I thought they were nuts! But when our baby had colic I suddenly understood all too well. Nothing worked for us like the hair dryer. When we turned it on she’d stop crying and go to sleep. When we turned if off she’d wake up and start crying again! We did get a CD for fear we’d burn the house down, the canned noise did work for us. We play it on repeat every night. It helps us sleep, too!

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