As technology continues to advance and develop in different ways, parents find themselves trying to answer questions that parents just a hundred years ago didn’t have to worry about. For example, in the 1040s, families didn’t have television sets in their homes. By the 1960s, there were television sets in most homes, but very little programming that children were going to be especially interested in. The programming that did interest children was geared more towards older children than infants. Even by the time we reached the 1980s, child programming was geared toward toddlers and older children.
Fast forward to today. There are a great variety of television shows designed around infants. There are even entire cable channels available that are geared towards infants. Promoters of these shows suggest that certain types of programming can stimulate an infant in such as way as to help them intellectually and socially. Yet, some scientific studies suggest that watching television will actually over-stimulate your infant, and have a negative effect rather than a positive one. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that you wait until a child is two years of age before allowing them to watch television.
Having said that, it is not likely that if you watch television for a little while when your infant is in the room that it is going to cause horrible harm to your baby’s brain. On the other hand, if you plunk your infant down in front of the television for five or six hours every day, it is theoretically possible that there would be a negative impact. One of the most important things to keep in mind when considering whether or not to allow your infant to watch television is that television is a poor substitute for human contact and parental supervision. Even if certain programming can have a positive effect, this effect is still less than the effect that a parent can have by playing with and holding their infant.
You should also avoid letting your baby watch TV at night, even if she’s having a horrible time trying to sleep. The stimulation that comes from the TV will only serve to keep her awake, rather than showing her how to calm herself back down and drift off to sleep.