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Smart TV-Watching Tips

Whatever semblance of hygiene I maintained as a new mom, I owed to Teletubbies. It was a successful formula: baby in play yard, tape in VCR, mom in shower. So I was disappointed when the American Academy of Pediatrics came out against TV for kids under age 2. But many other moms don't seem to be worried: A new study found that 40 percent of 3-month-olds watch TV, and 90 percent of kids do so by age 2. If you're going to allow some viewing (and most of us do), here's the smart way to do it:

Be choosy. Shows in which characters speak to your child (such as Dora the Explorer) or that have a clear, linear story line (like Clifford) are the best language builders.

Join in. Talking with her about what's happening on a show will help her learn more from what she's viewing.

Get creative. Make videos of your own starlet; they will enthrall her and show her that TV is not the real thing.

Use it in moderation. Young children learn faster from live, human interaction than from watching it on TV.

Turn it off when your baby stops watching it. The noise can distract her from other play efforts.

Avoid TV around bed- or naptime. It can disrupt your baby's sleep.