If toddlers watch TV…what should they watch?

Just like their nutritional diet, Baby‘s media diet requires careful planning. The current recommendation from The American Academy of Pediatrics is that children can safely enjoy some screen-media content starting at around 18 months old, but it’s important to understand that creative, unplugged playtime is still the priority. Balance is everything, so when you do settle in for some snuggles and TV with Baby, try to limit the screen time to about an hour per day.

If the time Baby will spend watching TV will be short and sweet, you want to make sure they get all the good stuff! The AAP also notes that the media toddlers watch on a screen should be high-quality, educational programming – and not all shows for toddlers are. More than that, even the most educational shows will probably only benefit Baby if you’re watching them alongside them to help them understand what they are watching. 

When you’re looking for shows to entertain and educate your little one, shows from PBS are a great place to start! (Bonus points if they’re also fun for an adult to watch…because you’ll be seeing a lot of them.) 

  • Curious George: A curious little monkey who encourages children to explore their interests in new things. You can also read Curious George books with Baby for the full multimedia experience.
  • Mister Rogers: You might remember this one from your childhood. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is all about being friendly, caring, cooperative, and just plain neighborly!
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: For a bit of an update on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, look no further than Daniel Tiger. It has similar social-emotional themes and uses music to help teach toddlers about life.
  • Super Why: This show is designed for children 3 to 6, so some of the educational material about vocab or learning to read might go over Baby‘s head at first, but there’s plenty of room to grow!
  • Sesame Street: This classic show is visually stimulating and helps teach about imagination, social skill, and making friends with all kinds of different people (and puppets). 

There are more educational programs appropriate for Baby than just these, and you can explore shows in different styles and on different networks to see what works best for you and your toddler. What kinds of content does they respond to, and what makes them ask questions? Actively watching these shows and participating with your little one will help you maximize the educational aspects and better understand what shows are right for your family. Good luck with all those catchy theme songs!

  • “American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. October 21, 2016. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx
  • Blake, Meredith. “Despite a move to HBO, ‘Sesame Street’s’ mission remains the same.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. March 20, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-sesame-street-on-hbo-20170319r-20170319-story.html
  • “PBS Kids Programs.” PBS Parents. PBS. Accessed June 14, 2017. http://www.pbs.org/parents/tvprograms/pbskids/

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