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!
"Love Day" Pizza
- 1 ball refrigerated pizza dough whole wheat if available
- 1/4 cup jarred pizza sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup each:
- Cherry tomatoes sliced
- Orange bell pepper diced
- Frozen yellow corn
- Broccoli florets chopped
- Red onion diced
- or other colorful toppings as desired
- Additional flour for dusting
Spray a pizza pan or sheet pan with cooking spray.
Preheat oven to the hottest available setting, likely 500F or 550(Of course, be extremely cautious when handling the pans and allowing your child near the oven.)
Dust the pizza dough with flour and press into a heart shape. You may need to press it into a small heart, then let the dough "rest" for a few minutes before returning to stretch it the rest of the way.*
Carefully transfer the dough to your baking pan.
Spread pizza sauce over the pizza dough. Evenly spread the cheese over the sauce.
Add each of the toppings in a horizontal stripe. Allow your child to participate as much as possible!
Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven. Around the 10 minute mark, watch your pizza carefully. Remove when the crust and cheese are just beginning to look golden.
Allow to cool and enjoy! (I found that cutting it across the diameter like a regular round pizza allowed for the the best distribution of toppings.)
*Room temperature pizza dough will be easiest to handle, if you can remember to leave it out for an hour or two before cooking.