Q: Popular baby TV shows?
Saturday, January 12, 2008 9:43 PM
Q: I've received lots of baby DVDs as gifts. Can you tell me more about the most popular baby programs before I let my baby watch?
A: Here's a rundown of some of the major baby shows, including their basic premises, links to any relevant studies, and opinions from our experts.
Baby Einstein: The series that started it all. Episodes focus on topics like art, animals and numbers, and generally feature images of different objects set to classical scores. "Some of their stuff tends to be really decontextualized," says Dr. Deborah Linebarger, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. "If you’re going to show these videos, talk to your baby while theywatch and help connect it to their real life." From $14.99; www.babyeinstein.com
Blue's Clues: New episodes are no more, but DVDs from the show's ten-year run are still hugely popular. Cartoon dog Blue and human hosts Steve and Donovan travel through animated worlds to solve simple puzzles, relying on lots of audience participation for help. "Shows like Blue's Clues that directly interact with the child are great," says Dr. Linebarger. "You want characters looking at the screen, talking to the viewing and giving time to respond. This models turn taking and utilize key language-promoting strategies. From $14.44; www.nickjr.com
Eebee's Adventures: Parents, babies and eebee (the little yellow creature with purple... hair?) talk, play, dance and sing through all different situations and activities. "Eebee's uses lots of repetition in multiple contexts, which is important," says Dr. Linebarger. "There's also lots of good language to describe what's going on." Eebee's uses what Dr. Linebarger calls a documentary format, meaning there's a single, easy-to-follow narrative and realistic pacing -- both make it much easier for babies to follow and apply to real life. From $17.95; www.eebee.com
Sesame Beginnings: Sesame Street, but... junior. Parent and baby muppets talk, sing and play with slow, animated language. The series aims to spark further interaction between babies and caretakers, and include printed guides to supplement the DVDs. "We find that if parents are actually watching Sesame Beginnings with their baby, they tend to be more interactive," says Dan Anderson, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From $12.98; www.sesameworkshop.org
Sesame Street: Sesame Street. You know. Muppets and real people, living together on Sesame Street, singing and playing and learning. More or less the same show you watched years ago. (Puppets age pretty well.) "Sesame Street wasn't designed for kids under age two," says Dr. Linebarger. "All the scene changes make it hard for babies to follow, and seem to negatively impact language formation." From $12.98; www.sesameworkshop.com
Teletubbies Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po happily dance, sing and babble through Teletubbyland. The creatures' tummies light up into TV screens, where videos of real kids play. "Teletubbies is especially problematic in studies, because it has such poor language models," says Dr. Linebarger. "Kids learn what you show them." From $9.99; www.shoppbs.org
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