Q&A: Background TV, choking, bottles, herbal tea, and long poops
It’s Q&A Friday!
Today is your last chance to fill out ParentData’s survey on your post-child sex life. I’ll be sharing the results with you on Valentine’s Day! So romantic…
As always, the first question today is available to all subscribers (background TV and kids), and there are a few bonus ones behind the paywall (about baby choking fears, extended bottle use, herbal tea in pregnancy, and, as a bonus: men’s and women’s variable toilet time).
Enjoy! And remember, you can submit questions for future weeks here.
My husband likes to watch the news in the background basically all morning and at dinnertime. We typically don’t let our son watch TV shows, but the TV is always on when my husband is in charge. (This on its own is a huge source of stress in my marriage — we totally disagree.) I’ve seen some studies that this is generally bad for kids’ development, speech, focus while playing, but my kid is pretty ahead by all measures in those areas, so my husband isn’t convinced and won’t budge. One thing I haven’t been able to find is whether/at what age the specific images on the news may become disturbing for my son. Right now he doesn’t understand what a building on fire is, but he will soon. And of course the news can be so graphic and upsetting. At what age will he start to understand, and is there any data that can help me convince my husband to turn the TV off? And if he won’t, just how damaging might it be?
I read two questions in here, one specific and one more general.
On your second, specific, question, about when kids absorb TV, our best evidence comes from asking when they can learn from TV. The answer to that is that learning from videos seems to appear sometime in the 2-to-3-year-old range. We know from research on Baby Einstein videos and similar that babies do not learn from videos. They can’t learn to talk based on TV and, by extension, probably absorb little of the news. By the 3-to-5 age range, we know from research on Sesame Street that kids clearly can learn things from TV. Good things (like the letter of the day!) and possibly bad things too.
This is all a continuum, of course, so it’s not that as soon as they turn 2, things change, but that gives you a range.
The bigger general issue here, though, is that you disagree on the TV policy. I do not want to overinterpret, but it feels to me like your specific age question is looking for a reason to not have the TV on. You can’t use the “our child is behind” reason, because he’s not, but maybe there is another possible reason?
A perfectly valid reason for not having the TV on is that it isn’t how you think the household should be. You can feel that it takes away from interactions either with your child or each other. If this is the case, you might want less TV even if there were no impacts on your child.
It seems like the first-order thing here is to have a longer family discussion about the TV policy. You and your husband disagree. In an ideal world, you would work out those disagreements directly. And maybe do it now — because eventually your kid will absorb what’s on television.