Am I Turning My Children Into Junkies?

My babies are already watching TV and they are only 16 months old. I’d love to tell you it’s just a little Baby Einstein now and again but they are already hardcore with an unfortunate affinity for the Wiggles. During every mealtime you will find my babies strapped into their booster seats in front of the TV vacillating from laughing and giggling like little impish maniacs to straight zoning out while eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve admitted publically a tendency to allow my preschool daughter to watch TV and not make a big deal out of exactly how many minutes she logs. A lot of times she, like her mama, likes to have it on as background noise while she colors, runs around the house or tells me stories about who got in trouble for using a “bathroom word” in the classroom. But I didn’t think my twins would be into it so early. But here’s something really crazy: the television during meals is actually a form of therapy. And no, not just for me.

 

As you know, we’ve tried every trick in the book to get Sadie our miniature twin to eat like a normal baby. And by normal baby I mean at least take more than one bite of food in any given meal. If you know me and you know my column, you know what a struggle this has been for us from the moment we took her home from the NICU. Despite the g-tube she has which helps her get extra nutrition, mostly overnight; she hasn’t gained an exceptional amount of weight. Funny enough, when I wrote Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay I distinctly remember advising parents not to worry so much about what their kids eat or don’t eat. At that time, I had a kid with no food issues so I had not experience dealing with one who literally doesn’t eat. Let this be my mea culpa. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand that that advice is not for all parents. And we are definitely not the only exceptions. And so, I’ve worried enough about what Sadie eats and doesn’t eat for an entire worry army. I’ve earned a Silver Star in worry.

 

Sometimes the parenting “rule book” has to be thrown away completely in order to be the best you can be. I don’t know if there are any hard and fast rules about parenting but I do know that plopping kids in front of the TV for every meal is frowned upon in most circles. But in our family it’s exactly what we need. And if we’re ever going to get rid of the button, the kid’s gotta eat - which leads me to the overconsumption of Wiggles in our living room.

 

maryellie
04.02.09

I loved this story. Our son would survive on air if he could. We try everything to get him to eat. We tried the TV, too. We experienced the opposite of what you describe. Our son gets so absorbed in what he's seeing, he won't eat anything (even if we try to spoon feed it). So, the TV experiment didn't work. I'm glad it works for you.

jenni
04.01.09

typical amusing, light-hearted article....then BAM!! those last two paragraphs had me falling off my chair laughing. Thanks Stephanie for your sense of humor (aka...coping mechanism) through the trials of parenthood. One more for the road.... "everybody clap [clap, clap, clap]... everybod sign [la, la, la, la]..." xoxo

Samantha
04.01.09

Stef,
I could just kiss you full on the mouth. Left to my own devices, I would watch television 12 hours a day. I let my kids watch too much television because I figure being a hypocrite is worse than letting my kids rot in front of Phineas and Ferb.

nabbie
03.31.09

Oh Steph... That T.V. Bullcrap is so old-school. I don't know too many kids who Don't watch t.v. during dinner anymore. As a kid growing up, I was not allowed to watch tv during dinner and I was a terrible picky eater. My son usually eats whatever I put in front of him because he is so into Max and Ruby. I Don't see the harm in it since he cannot engage in adult conversation yet and is not subjected to horrific violence on the tube... what's the harm? If he is eating is veggie's and all of them, my work is done right? Yeah!

mackietaz1
03.29.09

I let my 22 month old do it to. I have a child who has never been over the 5-10th % in weight and i do not care if he wants to watch the newest episode of csi or the wiggles as long as he eats. Who know maybe im a bad mom (I didn't breast feed to) But I believe that you need to do what works best for your child. And just before people rally together to stone me to death for not breast feeding know that my son has never had a cold, ear infection or teething problem.

Lemira
03.28.09

We let our 3 year old son watch Ni Hao Kai-Lan and Dora or Diego while eating dinner. It's more of a time management thing for us since our time is crunched in the evenings due to work and commutes. He gets to watch his obligatory 2 cartoons and I get to catch the last 15 minutes of my favorite cable news show. After that he's off to play. Our 8 month old gets fed at the same time, but she's just into whatever her brother is doing. I have wondered if we are raising a sedentary kid. But when I see him sliding full speed down the stairs, that thought leaves my head. You have to go with what works and find a balance. Others may not like it, but who cares what they think. They don't have to walk the road you do every day.