A favorite author of mine, Dr. Jenn Berman (author of Superbaby) recommends (and for good reason) that you hold out until age 3.
I had every intention of waiting until at least 2. The verdict was still out beyond that.
Intentions are often good, but...
My husband was resistant. As a TV addict, it was futile trying to convince him to turn off the TV whenever our daughter was in the room. He saw no harm in her watching cartoons, citing we both did it growing up and, look how great we turned out!
He also preached the "educational value" in good children's programming, and thought she was missing out. (That's the argument everyone uses, by the way, but extensive research has shown they have little educational value, even the good ones.) Then my mom started in too. I mean, I grew up on Sesame Street, they taught me all I know, yada yada yada. (Just kidding about that last part.) So I went to our pediatrician, husband in tow, hoping she'd side with me and the AAP and all the research I'd read. And what did she do? She towed the party line. She gave the answer so many give, the whole "okay in moderation" thing. Argh. Not what I wanted hubby to hear. So what did I do? After holding out for 18 months of zero TV for my baby girl, I caved. I decided I'd made it most of the way there, and really - could a little SuperWhy! really be all that bad?
Fast forward 4 months. I now have a 22 month old who is ADDICTED (like, asking to watch 5 times a day, even after she's already watched the same 4 DVDs we own 5 times that week) to the Wiggles. And I've slipped into the oh-so-easy routine of simply popping the disc in and giving her some sliced kiwi in the living room while I escape to the kitchen to clean up the breakfast mess. And I feel - guilty.
Do I wish I would've stuck to my guns? Maybe... It's not so much that I hate that she's watching TV, but maybe that I've become a bit too apathetic. I don't think TV has to be a terrible thing, but it should be used in the most educational way possible. I do only limit her to 1 (VERY rarely 2) hours a day of TV, and feel okay with that. But, seriously? How much can her little brain be getting stimulated by the same four guys doing the same ole song and dances for the 46th time?
So, I am making it my mission to at least revisit the idea of her TV watching to make it as educational experience as possible. I mean, the kid is only awake for 10 hours a day - this hour is very important! I am going to do my best to phase out the Wiggles (at least maybe only letting her watch once a week) and turn on more stimulating programming - something different and new each day!
And for this, I turn to PBS. In our area, between the two stations we get, they have a GREAT morning line-up. It goes like this:
6:00 (heaven forbid we're up that early): Curious George
6:30: Cat in the Hat
--- and now the really good stuff starts ---
7:30: Dinosaur Train
8:30: Dinosaur Train
9:00: Word World
9:30: Word World
10:00: Sesame Street
And that gets us through 11:00, which is nap time! The point is - from the time we get up (usually 7:00) until the time she goes down for her nap, at any point during that 4 hour period that we're not going for a bike ride, eating breakfast, playing in her room or swinging outside, we can turn on PBS and find a commercial-free, quality program (after screening a few shows, I've decided for her age these above are my #1 picks - Dinosaur Train, SuperWhy!, Word World and Sesame Street).
So, from now on, whenever that hour of TV watching falls, I will do my best to make sure it is tuned in to one of these!
And to do more, check out their website just for kids!