Can You Build a Better Baby?

Too Much TV

The Claim: Babies who watch TV will have attention deficit disorder.

The Truth: There's some evidence that watching television is linked to inattention. Researchers at the University of Washington reported that kids who are couch potatoes between ages 1 and 3 are more likely to have attention problems by age 7. But a subsequent study by scientists at Texas Tech disputed those findings and concluded there was no correlation at all. "We need lots more research to know for sure," says Dr. Perlmutter.

Still, there's enough evidence about the other harmful effects of television that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children under the age of 2 away from the tube entirely. "Babies and toddlers don't realize that TV isn't reality," explains Dr. Perlmutter. Even more troublesome is the fact that watching television keeps kids from participating in other, more beneficial activities. "When kids are in front of a TV, they aren't playing or socializing," he says. "They're gaining weight, increasing their risk for obesity and diabetes. And they're not learning how to interact with other children."

The Bottom Line: Go easy on the cartoons and put more emphasis on play to help your kids reach their potential.

Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the August 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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