Why I Have No Shame Putting My Baby In Front Of The Television

…While I Get Sh*t Done

The first time I realized that Jaxon is particularly familiar with television was during his first trip to the doctors for his vaccinations.

We were in the waiting room and I looked down at him in the capsule to find him cranking his neck to watch the TV on the wall.

I had two options, turn him away from the TV and let him cry. Or, turn him towards the TV to get a better view.

I chose to let him watch Ellen because 1. She’s bloody hilarious and 2. Because who cares if my infant likes TV?

IMAGE why i have no shame putting my baby in front of the television while i get shit done

Yes, I admit that I plonk him in front of the TV when I need to make a coffee, cook dinner, make a phone call, or even when I just need a break (to poop).

I started out feeling guilty about this but you know what? Stuff that.

I can happily justify (to myself and others) that I do not put him in front of the TV to do anything but be a better mum to him.

I don’t put him in front of the TV so I can pour myself a glass of wine and read a trashy magazine, I do it so I can prepare dinner for us. So I can put on a load of washing. So I can get shit done.

I used to feel embarrassed and #mumguilt about how he would seek out the TV whenever we entered the loungeroom but now I just put ABCkids on and sometimes he watches it and sometimes he just plays on his mat and its really there for company in the empty house.

It teaches him that I do not need to be attached to him 24/7. Of course, when he just isn’t into it, I crawl down onto the floor, turn off the TV and we play until he tires himself out and is ready for a nap. Which is sometimes a couple of hours straight.

Related: Baby Take Over Days

I turn the TV off when he is too distracted to eat his dinner or when Alan gets home from work and it’s time to play with daddy.

I turn it off during nap times because otherwise I find myself watching playschool and you know what? It’s bloody fascinating, the stuff they teach children.

Watching Elmo ‘look it up’ on his iPhone when he has a question just shows how screens in general are going to be a huge part of my child’s life.

Very different from when I was growing up

The thing that isn’t different? The TV being on during mealtimes, the news going on at 6pm, every night. No more cartoons after 6pm was a rule in my mother’s house and something I intend to replicate for my children.

The other thing that won’t change? Outdoor playtime. Yep, we may have been plonked in front of the TV when mum needed to get some housework done, make a phone call or make dinner but that did not stop me from having thousands of outdoor hours clocked up. These are the things I remember from my childhood, not that we used to sometimes sit and watch TV on rainy days.

In fact, I remember playing outside in the fresh air more than we actually sat in front of the TV. Even though it was available to watch all day and through the evening.

On the other hand, I hear parents say that they have a zero-screen policy with their babies and that they limit their young children’s screen time as well.

That’s all good and fine if that is your choice, mine is to let my children watch age appropriate TV shows and that’s fine too.

Australian guidelines advise that parents should limit 2-5 year-olds to 1hr per day of screen time and before 2 they shouldn’t have any at all.

I mean, if I was going to implement something like this, I would have to look at my own usage, because afterall, my kids will see me on my phone… a lot. Not just for pleasure but for work as well so how do you teach them the difference?

I got curious as to whether I was the only mama ignoring these restrictive guidelines, here’s what a few of them had to say:

Yes. My babies loved Baby Einstein and Praise Baby videos.
No guilt then, none when they were toddlers in love with Bo on the Go, and no guilt over Minecraft now that they are older. As for others, you do you. 

Karen Hipson 

We watch tv! I grew up in a house that really highlighted the importance of cinema to our culture. So baby (8 months now) has his shows that are normally on for an hour or two in the mornings while he plays on the floor, then the rest of the day I typically have something on in the background. No guilt here! Once he is older, we will watch everything with subtitles to help him learn to read. I don’t feel one way or another towards parents who make the opposite decision, so long as they don’t try to judge me for mine.

Ashley Huston from www.AshHuston.com

Sesame Street since she was itty bitty. I tried to avoid it, but my parents watched her when she was little while hubby and I worked and always had the TV on in their house anyway (not necessarily for her just in general). At least this way she wasn’t just watching random media but something for kids. Now that she’s 14 months she’s crazy for Elmo. I do have a lot of mom guilt about it and worry myself about the impact it could have on her later on, but I know my parents didn’t filter screen time with my brother and I and we’re doing just fine.

Victoria Summerlin 

Mom of 6 here and a Psychology Professor. My oldest is 16 and my youngest is 18 months… they all watch tv and there is no guilt at all. Age appropriate television and mostly “education” television at a younger age. There are, of course, time limits with all types of technology but I see no harm in tv depending on what you allow the children to watch. My kids are well rounded, straight A students and the two older girls in high school have already completed several college classes.  we also use the smart tv for YouTube shows for the kids to learn Italian. My kids come from bilingual home and you can find any Disney, Nick Jr and PBS show in Italian right on YouTube!

Jacqueline Chinappi from Www.kitchenpsychology.com

My daughter is twelve months, and aside from the very occasional animated song, we don’t do any screen time, and I’m going to try to avoid it for as long as possible. Part of this is because my husband has ADHD, my stepson (her brother) has ADHD, and I highly suspect I have undiagnosed ADHD. So the odds are good she’ll already have attention issues – I’m not going to compound it with the typical children’s TV scenario of “short segments and quick attention grabs.”

Kate Martin

Related: Things I learned about myself when I became a mother

We don’t sit her down in front of the TV, but sometimes when we’re watching TV I catch her looking. She’s only 4 months, so she doesn’t focus on it long, she doesn’t really care. I don’t plan on putting shows on directly for her for a while (my MIL put Elmo on her phone and shoved it in her face in the car and I FLIPPED), but I also don’t care if she does get screen time at home. To be honest, it’s more for me than for her. If I know she likes TV I’m more likely to put her in front of the TV when I’m lazy. Now i don’t have that option. But I’m not opposed to either way or parents who do either!  

Brooke Nuzie from www.Stacksandsnacksbooks.com

There are so many educational kids shows, it’s shown great in helping him learn colors, numbers, names, animals, etc. We watch just for fun cartoons too. As long as there’s no violence or swearing, its ok in my house. 

Chelsea Clarke from www.herpaperroute.com

So since I work at home and my mom used to watch her from her house the TV is kind of just always on. For noise and such. When she was little, she didn’t really have an interest in it and now I usually out a show on for her throughout the day. My thought process is 1. She is growing up in an age that is all about technology and media so I want her to have a healthy knowledge of it. And 2. She still doesn’t get all that involved in it, she will like glimpse it and keep playing with her toys or drawing. Which is something I personally do because I constantly have to be doing 2 or more thing, I can’t just watch TV. And 3. She gets quiet times nap times and other time where there are no electronic and I let her play outside so I don’t see it affecting her negatively. Should she start getting obsessive or aggressive when I turn the TV off then her time will be severely limited.

No guilt really except when judgy moms try to get on my case and I have to remind them that she is my child and my house which means they can butt out lol

I don’t really pay much attention or care what other moms do. I mean I would feel bad for kids who just get plopped in front of a TV all day long but that has been few and far between. Plus, my BFF just got married to a man whose mother did that to him and the only issue they have is he loves to buy movies.

Jessica Kunkle 

No, we don’t let our kiddos watch TV (a 3yo and infant). We’re not big TV watchers so it’s not part of our day. In fact, the only TV is in a part of the house that we don’t readily use during the day so the kids don’t see or even ask about it. We do let him watch if he’s sick and just needs to lay down and rest (so very very rarely). I do think less screen time has a positive impact on development and behavior so we’re sticking with this as long as we can. I don’t think we’re depriving him of anything, he goes to a great school so he gets his education from real people and he has the best imagination.

Danielle DeBoer from Www.workingmomapproved.com

I was so worried about having her watch TV in the beginning. I heard so many bad things about it and I didn’t want to do the wrong thing. Dad loved watching TV with her though. So over time I slowly started adding some TV time in. I definitely had lots of mom guilt with having her watch TV. But now I don’t feel as bad about it anymore. She enjoys it and I’m able to get some stuff done while she watches her daily toons. I just don’t overdo it and let her watch it all day of course. 🙂

As for Moms who are against having their little ones watch TV, I don’t really care as long as they don’t try to lecture me for doing it. Every family is different and does things differently.

MaKenna Carnes from www.mamakenna.com

I traveled from the US to Korea and back by myself (at 23 and 28 weeks pregnant!) with my 18 month old son. I don’t know if I could have done it without allowing some screen time!

Recently I’ve tried to use movies like Cars and Finding Nemo to give me some time to get stuff done around the house. Unfortunately he doesn’t want to watch unless I’m sitting there with him! 

Ashley Lee 

We watch TV in our house. Mostly nursery rhymes and learning songs if the girls are watching. It’s really helped them learn words (colours, animals etc.) so I don’t feel too much guilt about it. They also spend lots of time playing in the garden or doing arts and crafts etc. so it’s pretty balanced.

They’re starting to use tablets in schools from a young age now. It’s just the way the world is going, so screen time is going to become more and more impossible to avoid in general I think

Rebecca Bolton from www.livingwithpeas.com

Yes, but not all the time. He is 9 months old and loves mickey mouse clubhouse. I put it on when I need to distract him or when I need a nap after a night shift (he plays in the pack n play). I personally don’t watch a lot of TV so it’s not on during the day.

Jamie Smith 

We tried really hard to wait until my daughter was one to let her watch any tv just because I heard it wasn’t good for them. She’s two now and absolutely obsessed! We try to let her watch it around the same time each day so she knows exactly when she can expect it. I do feel guilty when I know we are consuming too much of it but then I remind myself that those times are far and few in between

Amy Motroni from www.thepostpartumparty.com 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am glad to see that there are so many mothers out there that are open to their children, particularly babies, watching TV.  

We are raising children in a society which is ruled by screens and the delaying of introducing them will likely not have a huge overall affect on their development.

If anything, I think that the delay in a child learning to use an iPhone or iPad may even set them behind as the devices are being introduced in early education.

As for TV specifically, there are so many educational, age appropriate shows on kid-friendly channels these days that it can almost act as an educational tool if used correctly and moderated.

I do sit and watch playschool with Jaxon, not side by side but with him on my lap, singing along to the songs that haven’t changed in 25 od years. That I learned the words to when I was a child… watching TV.

Do you let your children watch TV? Let me know in the comments below!

Much Love, Veronika Xx

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