By Cheri Fuller
“Our toddlers love that educational video!” “My baby is mesmerized by that music DVD; I’m going to buy the rest of the set,” I heard some moms saying while their little ones played at the park.
As a parent, you want to nurture your young child’s bright mind. We all want the best for our kids. That’s why there’s such a huge market for the myriad of products (over 750 offered on amazon.com alone!) assuring parents that DVD’s are educational and beneficial for babies—from videos and flash cards to teach reading to foreign language CD’s promising to increase your baby’s brain capacity.
But what experts are concerned about is how, with the best of intentions, babies and toddlers are being overstimulated by these entertaining products. Look with me at several recent child development research studies:
- Pediatricians recommend no TV viewing of any kind for children under two, no matter how great the DVD or video is. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- The more TV/videos babies watch, the more likely they are to have attention problems later. For every hour of daily “screen time” before age three, the risk goes up by 10% (Child Health Institute at University of Washington).
- Children learn a foreign or second language best from parents and teachers, not CD’s (CHI, University of Washington).
- The more mothers and fathers respond to their babies’ and toddlers’ cries and expressions—the earlier their children talk and the more advanced their language skills at age five and beyond. (New York University).
The stimulation your baby’s brain needs, the experts concluded, can be found in “ordinary, nonstructured, nonmarketed things around the house.” (Time Magazine, January 16, 2006).
Isn’t that great news? Rather than electronic or visual stimulation, it’s actually involvement between you and your child at home—playing and running errands, doing ordinary activities, talking together—giving your child wooden blocks, balls and books, playing peek-a-boo and singing songs together—that the very best kind of brain building happens.
In the next column, I’ll share some more wonderful ways to nurture your child’s brain development. In the meantime, enjoy the gift of every day with your child—the time goes so fast!
(Use only with permission of author.)