Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Trust Your Instincts

I saw this Portlandia clip this morning and I had to chuckle. What if instead of the tons of paperwork and pamphlets they give you when you go home from the hospital with your baby, they just gave you one that said, “TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.” It might just make for a calmer, more confident Mama.


At some point during Henry’s first year, I wondered if it was okay for him to have a lovey in bed with him at night. We’d followed the “nothing in the crib except baby” rule very carefully, but we were sleep training and I thought that a small comfort item might help him. I asked my trusty parenting consultants (Twitter friends) what they thought and my friend Katherine responded that I should use my instincts. It turns out, my instinct at that time was that I didn’t feel safe putting a lovey in the crib with him just yet. Not sure why, but I didn’t. That was a really great piece of advice.


Shortly after Henry recovered from The Stomach Bug That Created All The Laundry, I finished reading SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. It’s really a pretty good book and I think I gleaned some good information from it. But, one chapter really made me feel like a horrible parent.

During the few days of Henry’s stomach bug, he really wasn’t feeling like playing much. He’d push his cars on the floor for a bit, knock over a block tower or two, but mainly he wanted to be up in my lap. We spent lots of time on the couch thumbing through his board books. He hadn’t watched television at all up until this point in his life as I was really trying to hold out until he was two before letting him watch anything. But, he was so sick and I thought an episode of Sesame Street might brighten his day. I was right. He was a fan, so we watched maybe an hour or so over the few days that he wasn’t feeling well.

So, I’m reading this book and I get to the chapter on television and read that there should be basically zero screen time for children under three years of age. The author writes that studies have shown that kids who watch television hear fewer words than children who do not, have delays in speech, a decrease in attention span, are more likely to be obese, etc. Of course, I’m feeling guilty! Instead of comforting my child with a little Big Bird, I should have been comforting him with MY VOICE.

But, here’s the thing. He watched television while he was sitting on my lap. If someone came on the screen that he showed interest in, I told him who it was and what they were doing. I told him that Elmo was red, that Big Bird was yellow and that Mr. Snuffelupagus was my favorite when I was a little girl (Snuffy really deserves more screen time, by the way). When Henry was sick, my instincts told me that a bit of television would be okay. We rarely have the television on during the day. He didn’t get parked in front of it as an infant and we don’t use it as a babysitter.


I’m not sure what I’m getting at here, but I’m doing my best to raise a smart, thoughtful and happy little boy. I know what works for us and I know what doesn’t. I know that staying home with Henry is right for our family. Keeping him in our room until he was 6-months old was right for us. And, a little bit of Sesame Street here and there isn’t going to hurt.


Comments on this post

  1. mjb says:

    Trust your instincts is the best advice, but you wouldn’t believe it from the hospital because you haven’t had a chance to let them kick in, so you don’t know they’re there yet.

    A little TV is fine and dandy. Those studies don’t take into consideration what you do with the rest of your time, and how you handle the tv, and while they sometimes they cover content, they don’t always get into whether it’s active or passive time. Your boy wasn’t feeling well and you cuddled him. That’s the best a mom can do.
    mjb´s last blog post ..Becca at 6 Months

    1. Liz says:

      Oh man, no screen time AT ALL? Well then I’m probably a huge parenting fail in their book. D LOVES TV. We limit it, but he just lights up at some of the characters and the music during Baby Einstein. I swear he learned to clap early, in part because of Ellen. I try not to have the TV on much when I’m home but even when I do, he’s pretty good at tuning it out and playing with his toys and ignoring it, especially if it’s something like the news or a sitcom. He’s almost like “eh, not my show. Don’t care.” and moves on. I know I’ll have to restrict it more when he’s a little older though.
      Liz´s last blog post ..How to Avoid Social Media Overload – Without Missing Out

      1. Home Sweet Sarah says:

        I hate arbitrary things like “no screens before whatever age.” Like we’re all just dumping our children in front of the TV and running away? No. I watched a lot (A LOT) of TV as a kid, so my standards are pretty skewed I think, but even then, LG and I are not just sitting around watch TV all damn day. (I think it is harder now, with cell phones and iPads and whatnot…back in my day (hah) we didn’t have that, it was just TV, so obviously yeah, now there is more to be aware of, monitor, limit, etc.) That being said, again, I hate such an arbitrary “rule” that might possibly make a parent feel poorly when in reality, the people who do probably need to limit the kids’ screen time probably aren’t reading the damn books in the first place. Anyway, you’re a great mom and Henry’s a lucky lad. (And I loved that Portlandia clip :-)
        Home Sweet Sarah´s last blog post ..Don’t bother me, I’m blogging

        1. Angella says:

          Um, thanks to Sesame Street, I was reading (as in, newspapers, complete books, etc.) by the age of three. And I went on to skip third grade. *grin*

          1. Meaghan says:

            Thank you for sharing this video. As someone who tends to over-worry, this is valuable advice that I can carry with me, not only in parenting, but life in general as well.
            Meaghan´s last blog post ..Currently

            1. regan says:

              I was pretty strict about the tv when Truman was a wee baby because, I don’t know, I just was. Jparks actually first introduced it to him and got him hooked on Gabba and I was LIVID. But poor Pips has been watching tv since day 1. There’s not a way to prevent it unless I have the kids live in different houses. We don’t watch a lot of tv (only after dinner and bath do we watch one episode of a show) but it’s there and I’m not willing to forbid it and have that fight with truman just to prevent Pippa from it. Sorry Pippa, you’re destined to stupidity because your brother needs his nightly Superhero Squad fix and momma needs to keep her sanity.
              regan´s last blog post ..a lot of words about working out

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