Reading Together

Turn the TV off and Raise a Smarter Baby

Posted on: March 23, 2009

Most research agrees that TV and DVDs have no benefit to babies and toddlers. DVDs such as “Baby Genius”, “Brainy Baby” or “Baby Einstein” which claim to make your baby smarter actually have no benefit at all according to recent studies.
Best Practices for Parents
Most parents admit to allowing their baby or toddler to watch television. Television is a part of our culture and it is hard to avoid. This is despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under age of 2 should not be in front of a television or computer. If a parent is allowing their child to watch television they must be mindful of the fact that their child is not gaining any benefits from their television watching and put limits on how much and when. They should also stay in the room with their child while they are watching. Parent-child interaction is one way to add some benefit to television watching. A parent can comment on what is happening on the screen and connect it to something in the child’s environment such as a favorite toy or book.

What will Make your Baby or Toddler Smarter?
A child’s first and best teacher are their parents. How can parents help ensure there child will have the best beginning? Try these tips. Please note all three tips require no special equipment or DVDs.

1. Read to your Child
Read to your child every day and begin at a young age. Babies enjoy hearing their mother’s voice and they find it very soothing. They also can bond with their father or other caregivers through the simple act of sitting down and reading a book or two. Have books everywhere in the house and allow your child easy access to them. Reading to your child is the best way for your child to develop language skills necessary to succeed in school.

2. Talk to your Child
Babies love the soothing sound of their mothers voice. Tell your baby or toddler about your day. Talk to him about what you are doing step by step. For example, “It’s time to change your diaper” or “Let’s button up your coat.” Go for walks and point out the cars, trees and birds. Say as much as you can to your child and he or she will develop great language skills later on. Also, sing to your child. Babies love being sung to and toddlers love music. You don’t have to have a great voice but songs and rhymes will also help develop language skills and higher IQ.

3. Interact with your Child
Get down on the floor with your baby or toddler and play. Let your imagination and inner child run wild and see what your child sees. Children learn through play and they learn through interacting with the adults around them. Sitting on the floor and interacting with your baby is the best way for your child to learn from you.

The best thing you can do for your child is give her a piece of you every day. So turn off that television and read, talk and play with your baby or toddler.TV and DVDs offer no benefit to babies and toddlers.



2 Responses to "Turn the TV off and Raise a Smarter Baby"

The study everyone keeps talking about that cites a loss of vocabulary and that DVDs will turn your kids brain into jelly have a lot of erroneous facts surrounding it, and has been promoted as a fear based agenda for far too long. There are scores of positive and real scientific research available to suggest that media viewing for children can actually have a very positive influence. In fact, when you count and look at all the research on this subject, there is an overwhelming amount of positive research that other Universities have performed.

Even the recent Harvard study that states DVD’s cause no harm, but no benefit either, were not studying content ! Read it for yourself. Harvard didn’t test the educational value, nor did they test products like Brainy Baby. Please do not draw conclusions that are not based on fact and then attempt to pass it off to other parents as the truth! Do your homework, please.

The key is content. My children were raised on quality, educational videos and they definitely learned all their basics from videos. DVD’s are just one more tool in the parent’s learning bag and should be viewed as a healthy component to assist in developing a “love of learning” for their child. I believe in parental interaction and other forms of imaginative play, however to completely dismiss DVD’s in view of all the positive research is really throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Even the AAP has said that their policy on media viewing is “just to be on the safe side” and states that it cannot support their policy scientifically (see AAP web site for exact quote).

I wouldn’t exactly cut the cord off the TV yet and as a parent I wouldn’t feel guilty if you use a video. What about all those parents that absolutely swear that their child learned their ABC’s from a video? Don’t we count?

Thank you babyeducator for your comment. As a children’s librarian, and the writer of a blog called “Reading Together” I come from the perspective that books and reading are what develop a “love of learning.” I appreciate your perspective and would love to see the studies that suggest that DVDs are beneficial because I have never seen any. Are they more beneficial than books? I would sincerely doubt that. I could cite numerous studies that suggest that children who are read to often are more verbal at an early age and are more prepared for school (maybe a topic for a future post). This includes the ABCs. I do not reject the entertainment value of DVDs (which I state in my post) but assert that children learn best with human adult interaction which I stand by regardless of any study suggesting DVDs are beneficial. By the way, kudos to you for “raising” your children on DVDs. My child has been raised on books and she is almost two has a vocabulary of a 3 year old, talks in 4-6 word sentences, knows her ABCs (not learned from a video), colors and shapes. She does know who all the Sesame Street characters are and loves Peter Pan. So yes, I have not “cut the cord off the TV” but I do set limits. And I certainly don’t delude myself into thinking that she will become smarter from watching TV. Everything I know about brain research and child development suggests otherwise.

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