TV Guide for Tots

How does television really affect your baby? Here's what we know.


If the american academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had its way, children under 2 would watch no TV. Yet one survey found that 70 percent in this age group put in some tube time. Even plenty of model (but harried) moms would admit to occasionally turning on Noggin. Reduce your guilt by keeping these viewing pointers in mind:

• Screen the show. Kids should never be exposed to violent cartoons or adult shows because they can lead to bad dreams, anxiety, aggression and risk-taking.

• Don't expect TV to boost your baby's IQ. On the contrary, time spent watching TV means less time for activities known to be good for a developing brain and body: reading, playing, moving and interacting with real people.

• Keep it short. Studies show that just two hours of daily TV viewing in the early years may contribute to attention problems, sleep troubles and obesity—and the risks increase with more tube time.

• Choose ad-free shows. Young children's minds are hugely impressionable and unable to distinguish between commercials and regular programming.

• Talk about it. When possible, watch the show with your child and discuss it.