A question was raised this morning in one of the Facebook groups to which I belong.
"It's been 11 years since I've had a newborn... so, have to ask..does a 3-4-5month old watch tv? I don't remember mine watching tv this young..a friend has her four month old in her car seat watching cartoons..I was surprised,she did seem to be glued to the tv."
I have to imagine that right about now, you're having a gut reaction to this question. I know I did. Maybe you're thinking, "What's the big deal?" Or perhaps--if you're like me--you felt a wave of sadness.
Not necessarily because it's possibly setting them up for a sedentary life of obesity and unhealthiness. Not even necessarily because of the overstimulation that can occur when children under 2 watch TV. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 100% abstinence from TV before the age of 2. See this great link.)
Rather, it's because of the devastating impact that the one-two punch of TV-watching and missed physical developmental opportunities gives infants.
Now, I am not anti-TV. My hubby and I are big fans of movies and TV shows. And we discovered years ago that a little TV-watching actually helped our son unwind if he had had some major sensory overloading earlier in the day.
But for a baby? Man. I get that parents need a break sometimes. It's been years since I had a baby in the house, but I still remember needing to just...take a break sometimes. However, setting them in front of the TV is not a great way to go about it.
So what's a better choice? How about placing them in a baby swing, where they can feel the gentle kinesthetic movement and use their hands to reach for and explore the hanging toys. It helps their eyes track, develops their vestibular system and strengthens their fingers, hands, arms and shoulders.
You know what? This relates to fitness! An individual's vestibular system is what regulates his or her sense of balance. Children with a healthy vestibular system may have an easier time walking, running, turning cartwheels and somersaults, and anything else physical that children love to do.
Let's add that helping those eyes learn to track leads to healthy hand-eye coordination. Being able to see something, reach for it, and grab it reliably. Like when playing basketball or swinging on the monkey bars. And it helps with spatial reasoning--being able to tell where your body is in space, in relation to other objects and people. Helpful for just about everything, like playing soccer and, you know, not getting hit by a car while crossing the street.
And being able to strettttttttttch and reeeeeeeeeach for those toys builds up those little hand and arm muscles, making it easier to learn to hold and control a spoon (and then a fork, and eventually a knife), or grab a ball and throw it, or dribble a basketball, or hold up one's own body in the midst of a handstand or cartwheel.
So the next time you are tempted to take a break by turning on the tube for your baby, consider keeping it turned off...and instead turn ON your child's brain by providing opportunities for healthy development!
Hi! I'm Lyn and this is where I blog about family, health, workouts, nutrition, meditation, relaxation & life in general. But it's not all about me--it's about inspiring healthy changes in other people's lives.
"...the only gift I wanted was to take back my health and reclaim my body."