Do you allow your toddler screen time?
Honestly, I never really thought about it pre-babies but now I’m actually quite pro-screen time, at least when it’s the right programming in reasonable quantities.
Yes, I allow it in part because it’s a sanity saver for me. And that’s a very important part of my own self care. But I’ve also discovered that although there is a lot of “junk” programming available, there are also a number of truly wholesome options that I believe will make a positive contribution to my child’s development (kind of like food, huh?)
And oh boy, do we love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in our house! For one, it doesn’t drive me crazy like other shows. But beyond that, it is so incredibly wholesome, educational and tailored to the actual Very Stressful Challenges of being a toddler, such as having a babysitter, getting a shot or (most importantly for us) getting a new baby sister!Can screen time help children learn to enjoy new foods? A dietitian mom weighs in Click To Tweet
Something I especially love about the show is that many of the episodes address challenges relating to food. I find that not a lot of other shows aimed at pre-school aged children actually do this beyond the occasional “eat a rainbow of veggies!” episode. But let’s be honest, food is a pretty big deal to toddlers and to pretty much all parents of toddlers, too! Eating happens every single day and a toddler’s food intake is one of the very few aspects of their lives that they actually have control over. My kid has witnessed Daniel Tiger deal with food allergies, try new foods, visit farms and even miss a special treat because he was sick (can you tell I’ve seen almost every episode??)
What’s more, even when the episode is not specifically about food, Daniel often cooks with his parents or is shown enjoying family meals with them, which I think is a subtle yet very valuable way to reinforce the importance of these habits. I recently learned that this is very intentionally worked into the show and I couldn’t be more pleased!
We recently enjoyed the “Love Day” episode and when I saw my daughter’s face light up when Daniel made a heart-shaped pizza with rainbow toppings with his parents, well, I just knew we were going to have to give that a go ourselves!
I think it is very beneficial that educational shows like Daniel Tiger depict circumstances and their solutions that the young viewer is likely to encounter her/himself. But there is also something to be said for the viewer imitating the actions of the TV role model in real life. Similar to how we (ideally!) model good behavior for our own children, when children have the opportunity to share the experiences of their favorite character, it helps them further identify with the character as a positive role model. And in the case of a very well-researched and well-structured show such as Daniel Tiger, this may ultimately help the child recall their role model’s actions and make similar choices.
Plus, it’s fun! And in the case of food, it may also help the child try something new. My daughter was already a fan of most of the toppings we used, but I can see us doing this again with a mix of toppings I know she likes and a few new ones, such as shredded Brussels sprouts in place of the broccoli.
Would you child enjoy this activity? What toppings would you use? It might be a great time to put my Food Exposure Chart to work. I’d love to hear how it works out for you!