The American Academy of Pediatrics website warns parents that, during the first two years of a child’s life when brain development is crucial, all television should be avoided. While several programs are targeted at young children, the positive influence of these shows is unknown. Interaction and play with parents have proven to yield positive results.
Engage your child in new activities that are not related to television. Play with your child and expose her to other kids. Explore your back yard. Sing with her. Visit a zoo, water park or other place that will give your child plenty of things to see. New activities also allow you to encourage speech by pointing out things to your child and describing them in detail.
Talk to your child as much as you can without using baby talk. Your baby may not be able to say “dog” yet, but hearing you say it correctly lets your child know you understand what she said while teaching her the correct word.
Read to your child as often as possible. Books are a great alternative to watching TV. The AAP’s Healthy Children website notes that reading promotes “both fun and learning, from the close contact of being held, to hearing the sound of your voice, to watching the pictures and pages go by.” While children enjoy picture books, any form of reading to your child encourages them to use language skills while engaging their imagination.
Reduce the amount of time your child spends watching TV one day at a time. If one day you stop allowing your child to watch TV, he will likely become upset at the sudden change. Your child relies on a predictable routine. When TV time is reduced gradually, your child is more likely to give it up on her own.
If your child is particularly resistant to reading or other non-television activities, read him books that contain some of his favorite TV show characters to get his attention.
Pay attention to what your child’s favorite TV shows contain. If you find your child singing along to the theme song of her favorite show, try singing new songs with her.
If you don’t have friends or family with children close in age to your child, check around town for “mommy and me” groups and other play groups where both you and your baby can make new friends.
If you are concerned that your baby's TV habits are causing language or other developmental issues, speak to your child's pediatrician to investigate the situation further.