How much TV did you let your toddlers watch?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: One of the challenges I found when my kids were toddlers was how to was to protect them from advertisers and block the commercial messages that surround us. I felt that I needed to create a safe microenvironment for my kids, to block messaging from the people who were trying to feed my kids rainbow-colored junk and get them nagging for the advertisers’ product.
Toddlers can’t distinguish between ads and programming. And those advertisers are brilliant. Our power as parents is remote compared to theirs. We are really setting ourselves up if we try to compete against them.
I support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for TV watching: No TV until age two years. Of course, let’s be honest. All moms need a few minutes here and there, such as to take a shower. And it’s perfectly fine to put the toddler in front of a DVD so you can shower in peace. When my kids were toddlers, I occasionally let them watch carefully chosen Disney DVDs when I was alone with them and needed to take a shower.
I think it’s important to lead by example. Before my husband and I had kids, we stopped watching TV. I discovered that I had much more time to read and to enjoy with my husband. I didn’t miss that TV one bit!
Over the years, the TV has crept back into our lives. It’s in a remote room, but we do watch it on occasion, such as when my sons’ favorite sports teams are playing. But we never watch TV during the school week.
—Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD, a mom of 16- and 14-year-old sons and a 12-year-old daughter, a pediatrician, and the founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA