When they were tiny, I put Michael and Sophie in their Rock and Play Sleepers and played part of The Little Mermaid movie for them. There were babies in my house and I needed to celebrate with a little Disney echoing around the place. Not long afterwards Mike and I showed the babies a Baby Mozart video just to see their responses. They zombied out. Other than that, the kids didn't really watch TV until they were about one and a half. Then I let go of the "no TV" thing.
I know avoiding TV until after kids are two-years-old is what the whole world of experts recommends, but the whole world of experts also has the whole world of moron parents to consider. Despite what this confession might lead you to believe, I know I am not one of those. I can totally see how setting your baby in front of the TV for hours a day would impede his or her language and social development, and I can totally see how some not-so-bright parents might not recognize those or the multitude of other problems with that scenario. However, I don't think a half hour here or there of mildly interactive viewing is all that bad for young toddlers. Honestly, I think it's even a little bit good.
And here are some of our favorites:
1. Little Einsteins - Not to be confused with the Baby Einstein videos (although they're related), we watch this Disney Junior show on demand and enjoy the whole concept of these kids going on a mission with a specific piece of classical music and a work of art incorporated into each episode. I can no longer hear Greig's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" without the words "We are here to trick-or-treat, trick-or treat, trick-or-treat..." playing along in my head. I appreciate these ways that this show makes art and music so relatable for my kids. I also respect the audience participation that the show requests. Michael and Sophie love patting their knees, and usually look over at me to be sure I'm doing it too, when it's time to help Rocket take off. Now when they they want to watch an episode they start to pat, pat, pat. I don't always indulge them, but sometimes I do.
2. Curious George - This is PBS Kids cartoon, and we set the DVR to record episodes so we can watch at our convenience. Like the books and their little stuffed pals, Sophie and Michael get a kick out of this little monkey and his mishaps. In the episode we watched this morning, George learned about the number zero, how it can mean none or can be added to other numbers to turn 1 dozen donuts into 10, 100, or even 10,000 dozen donuts. You can imagine the sort of mess he got into at the bakery. Like all shows, the storylines and educational concepts are still above Michael and Sophie's heads, but they'll point out George, his "dada," various animals, and laugh at some funny parts. The television show will never replace the books, but if I need some time to make dinner without toddler shenanigans to reconcile, I don't feel guilty about letting PBS entertain with this one.
3. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - My curiosity about this show came from the reviews from other parents who said their kids loved it long before we ever watched. Some teachers at work were even talking a while back about how each of this show's episodes includes closure, a requirement of our own lesson plans. One teacher pretended to miss the point and said she was going to start ending her classes with the "Hot Dog Dance." I didn't get the humor at the time, but now I laugh a little when I see Michael and Sophie dancing along, imagining my 9th graders joining in. Just sing "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog..." in Sophie and Michael's presence, and you'll see this show isn't just about vegging out.
Michael and Sophie have also sampled Caliou, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Sesame Street, among others, but the above three are the winners around here. I aim for no more than one show in 24 hours and am attempting to get back to far less than that. However, on my less responsible days the kids might watch an hour total--one show mid-morning if they're tired (I swear they've never fully adjusted to one nap) and then another half-hour in the late afternoon when I'm making dinner. That's a bad day, and I don't love when it happens, but it does. And I must confess, I'm not totally ashamed.