Today’s guest author is Andrew, father of a 3 year old.
There are all sorts of studies out there warning about the effects of “this” and “that” on babies and toddlers. It’s any wonder we have kids at all with all the dangers lurking in our pantries, high chairs, shoes, and cell phones. Since I’ve only been able to run my own experiments on a single child, replicating the results in those studies has varied. One series of studies show that introducing TV to babies and small children can be detrimental to their mental growth. In my house, NOT watching a show every now-and-then bordered on life-threatening. This is why I call TV watching “Distractertainment.” I’m sure the executives at Disney and Nick, Jr. are going to love this!
My son was born with distaste for food. As an infant, he’d suckle for one, two, three pulls and then unlatch with a smile. I assume he was baiting my wife because as a three year old he’s a funny, clever little stinker. A bottle didn’t work either. We’d be lucky to get 4 ounces in his belly…in a day! The only time he’d get nourishment was in the middle of the night when he was half asleep. Thankfully, he was better once we started him on solids, but still not great. According to his doctor, he consistently bordered on being malnourished. Then a series of events unfolded that led to the ease of our anxieties over his feather-like weight.
We stuck his high chair in the kitchen to give our dining room carpet a break from the mash of food for a while. During one particularly frustrating evening (whining and turning his head at every bite), I pulled out my laptop and clicked over to Youtube. I typed in “baby”, and the first thing that popped up was something from the Baby Einstein series. When I hit PLAY, he slowly calmed down. Then I put a spoonful of grub up to his mouth. He opened his lips and took the entire bite without fuss. Eventually, he ate his entire dinner. SUCCESS!!! It should be noted that we’ve used this tactic for important things like eating, brushing teeth, changing a diaper under wiggly circumstances, and taking medicine: DISTRACTERTAINMENT! By the way, I see this as no different as when I take him to his dentist or to the kiddie barber – both have TV’s in front of the chair to distract attention so they can do their work. Of course, as he gets older, he’ll be taught to be more patient and won’t need distractertainment.
BE WARNED if you are going to use Youtube, however. People who upload videos are either saints or Satan. I learned this the hard way. There have been many times a series of curse words and NSFW images popped up in the middle of a sweet-natured baby show, generally frightening me more than my son. They are usually loud, abrasive, violent, and very short – like my little dude when I’ve denied him non-washable markers, Mommy’s good earrings, or a cup of coffee.
This post is part of our ongoing series “Dad Tales.” Stories, triumphs, tantrums, tips, and real life experiences from dad’s point of view.
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