Must-sleep TV

For parents who can’t get their two- to five-year-olds to bed, KIDS Sprout, a cable and satellite network, will offer “The Goodnight Show,” three hours of “soothing stories and music that encourages toddlers to wind down and get ready for bed.”

Seattle pediatrician Donald Shifrin, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee that studies television and children, does not recommend that parents make the KIDS Sprout show — or any other — part of their children’s bedtime routine.

“The bedtime routine is one of the most sacred times for parents,” Shifrin said. “What we’d like is to have parents take them there with cuddling, with books, with songs, even with audio tapes.”

For years, I read my daughter two books — “Goodnight, Moon” and a rotating selection — and sung her three songs at bedtime. Before leaving the room, I’d say, “There are no bears or wolves in Palo Alto. They live a long way away.” Then I’d tell her what I had on my feet, usually nothing, so she could predict the sound of my footsteps on the wood floor. (That’s my theory on why she wanted to know. I’m not certain.)

I suspect that parents who can’t figure out how to prepare their children for bed should start with less TV, not more TV.

About Joanne


  1. I periodically suffer from insomnia, and one of the things a counselor told me was to avoid bright lights in the evening – computer screens, tv screens, even bright reading lamps. What a sleep-challenged person needs is a progressive dimming. (And yes, it does help me to avoid bright lights before bedtime.)

    I can’t imagine that television – even allegedly boring television – would help children sleep better than parent-told or -read stories, and reassurance, and routine.

    one of my friends who is a parent kept a small spray bottle of water with a few drops of the cologne she wore in it – anti-monster spray. When her children were little, she would make a ritual of spraying it around the room and telling her children (when they were at the monster-fearful stage) that no monsters could get in the room.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Hope you didn’t lie to Allison and tell her there were no lions in Palo Alto.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    There are people who have natural circadian rhythms that are not 9 to 5. Why should children be forced into such schedules? “The school opens at 8 AM” is not a good reason; given that a diverse market can support schools that open at different times, or mobile tutors, or distance education.

  4. That is ridiculous. It really bugs me when people say things like “You’re so lucky your kids go to bed at a decent time. Mine won’t go to sleep before 2am.” or whatever. Lucky? No, my kids are lucky I care enough to put in the effort!

  5. Elizabeth Ditz says:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has the following position statement

    word about…TV for toddlers

    Children of all ages are constantly learning new things. The first 2 years of life are especially important in the growth and development of your child’s brain. During this time, children need good, positive interaction with other children and adults. Too much television can negatively affect early brain development. This is especially true at younger ages, when learning to talk and play with others is so important.

    Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children age 2 or younger. For older children, the Academy recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs.

    As for me, what kind of parent would think that ‘soothing tv” is better than direct parental involvement in a soothing routine.

    My daughter’s favorite book for a long time was “Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the West”. Hearing her lisp the scientific names was priceless.

  6. Goodnight Moon worked well with my daughter. So did lullaby tapes. Teddy bears were also helpful. And of course, for monster protection, “under the blankets” is the universal shield.

  7. “the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children age 2 or younger.”

    …Unless you are in a waiting/examination/hospital room as a patient of one of their member physicians.

    The hypocrisy is revealing…

  8. Jack Tanner says:

    I kind of dig Melanie though.