Baby Whinestein

Those close to me know that though my Micah is a sweet, jolly little soul much of the time, he is also prone to fits of roaring rages and lusty cries I didn’t know could be so powerful even at just a few weeks old! He demands constant stimulation. If he is not on the floor pretending to walk, in the air “flying,” out doing errands with me or being sung favorite songs such as “Old MacDonald” with varied voices, he is not happy and I am often at my wits end!

Thus begins my predicament. I bought Micah a Baby Einstein video for Christmas…Baby Mozart because I know from my sister and many other moms that these videos can be life savers. He has a Baby Einstein jolly jumper/exersaucer toy I decided I would put in front of the T.V. once a day when I needed to shower and he could play in there while watching the video. The problem: I’ve begun noticing as soon as he sits in the jolly jumper, he immediately looks expectantly around our small living room area for Baby Mozart to begin…this is very tempting for me since I’ve noticed the calming effects of this video are immediate and I know if I just press a few buttons, Micah’ll be set for half an hour.

Before Micah was born, I felt certain I would never put him in front of the T.V. I would instead put my energies into grooming the most imaginative and brilliant baby around! Now I see that realistically, the only means to rearing a T.V. free child is to not have a T.V. Yup, don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out I’m hearing many of you say but still, I wish as humans we never enjoyed anything in excess and it was possible to ignore the allure of the big black box (nope, no fancy compact Plasma TV for us:).

What do I do though? My fear is my son will be affected by this early T.V. watching and become addicted as he gets older! I would love some tips or suggestions from other moms out there on how to entertain babies/small children and even how to resist the urge to turn to the pacifier of pacifiers, T.V.

**Note: I realize this is a concern of mine and it may not be shared by everyone…I am not passing judgment on other parents, etc.

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16 Responses to Baby Whinestein

  1. Juno Baby says:

    Hello,My wife actually wrote an article which suggests some ways you can interact with your child through creating music. You might be interested to know that, ironically enough, we are producers of children’s media. But as much as we think that media can be very beneficial, we also think interaction is so important. If you’re interested, we write a blog at on music, media, and interactivity. I’ve cut and pasted this one below. I hope it’s helpful:Parents don’t need to be experts in child development to know that children and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. We’ve all seen babies light up and smile, toddlers shake and wiggle, and preschoolers get up and sing to their favorite songs. But, children can take their natural enthusiasm for music one step further by actively participating and making their very own music, becoming composers themselves. Creating original music is not only empowering, it can be a wonderful springboard into a world of creativity promoting self-expression, problem solving, good communication skills, teamwork, and an appreciation for the arts. As Leonard Bernstein once said, “Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.”Here are ten suggestions to help your children unleash their inner composer. 1. Put Hands and Feet To WorkPut on some music and have your children express their reactions through drawings or dance. Ask them to paint what they hear or dance in a way that best reflects the mood of the piece. Interpreting music through art and dance, areas they are most likely very familiar with already, will help them to become more thoughtful listeners and active participants in the musical experience.2. What Do You Hear?Is the songfast or slow? Is it happy or sad? What types of instruments do they hear and are the sounds low or high? Deconstructing a piece of music will allow children to have a better understanding about the compositional processand serve to demystify it. 3. What Story is the Music Telling?Put on a piece of music that is instrumental only. Have your children make up their own scenario or story based on the music that they hear. For example maybe the pizzicato strings are raindrops and the quick flute lines are butterflies flying from leaf to leaf. Maybe a low tuba sound is a hungry bear in a forest searching for food. Composition is about telling a story and expressing ideas through sound. 4. Join the BandBreak out the drums, pots and pans, or hum and sing. Put on some music your children love and encourage them to pretend they’re on stage performing with the group.They will feel more directly involved in the music making process. 5. Musical ExpressionsHave your child come up with a word and have them express that word through music. For example, the word “cat” might conjure up a playful rhythm, the sound of a meow, or the quiet of an afternoon nap. Whether on a piano, tambourine, glockenspiel, kazoo, or even a wooden spoon and a pot, allowing children to express their ideas through sound is a wonderful way for them to communicate —regardless of their instrumental abilities. 6. Hum About the ZooComposers find musical inspiration from their own life experiences and interests. Have your child canhum a tune or create a rhythmic pattern on a drum about what it felt like taking a trip to the zoo or how she felt on their first day of school. 7. Pattern a PerformanceTo start, have your child sing or play a three note musical pattern. Repeat it back to your child. Continue with a new musical set, gradually increasing the length of the pattern.This will help establish your child’s musical idea. To encourage thoughtful listening, reverse the exercise and have your child play back or sing your musical pattern. 8. Peanut Butter-free Jam SessionSit a group of children in a circle, each with his own instrument. One person should lead by playing a brief musical idea alone. One by one, each person in the circle can add to the piece until everyone is playing simultaneously. See where this leads and decide how the piece should end. Encourage players to listen carefully to each other and build a composition together. 9. Melody MakersBegin with a musical idea – a familiar melody or an original. Then, by changing the rhythm, dynamic, tempo, instrumentation, and/or pitch see how differently you and your child can make that melody sound. The possibilities are limitless. What makes composition so interesting is what the composer does with an idea not just the idea itself. 10. Music is EverywhereLike pioneer twentieth century composers John Cage, who believed that music exists everywhere and can be made from anything, and Harry Partch, who created his own set of unique instruments, encourage your child to start noticing the sounds and noises around her. Whether it be barking dogs, honking horns, rustling leaves, or even brushing teeth, sound and music are everywhere. Have your child become more aware of the patterns, dynamics, rhythms, and melodies that these sounds create and how they can be woven together like the instruments of a symphony orchestra. Help your child come up with untraditional ways to make music like flipping pages in a book, shaking a bean in a can, or zipping a zipper. These are ways for your child to create music without any training and to start them on the road to becoming the next generation of pioneer composers.

  2. Susanna Rose says:

    Wow…thank you so much for all the helpful info! I will be sure to look at your site as well!

  3. Neo says:

    Rose – Try blues clues and teletubbies. They’re like crack for babies. LOLPeace,- Neo

  4. Susanna Rose says:

    Neo, Thanks!;) Teletubbies especially really freaks me out! I watched a few minutes of it a few weeks ago and just thought I definitely didn’t want Micah to be watching it! There’s something disturbing about their voices, the little giggling sun baby, etc!

  5. Neo says:

    Rose – I know, but it calms their little minds, and make them stop crying. A little bit of a gift if their little minds start screaming. It’s a few minutes of quiet, and that is all new parents seek right?

  6. bchallies says:

    Interesting issue. Glad it is one I did not have to face.

  7. jana says:

    Susanna, I have thought through this issue too. When Mara Kate was younger she was A LOT like Micah. I also was concerned that Mara Kate would grow up addicted to the TV. I am happy to report that I only used Baby Einstein if I desperately needed to get something done and as soon as I was finished I would turn it off. I did however let her watch while sitting in her exersaucer and she enjoyed that time, thankfully. I don’t think there is any danger in allowing your baby to watch a baby video if it is in moderation. Also, now that she is older and able to move around on her own, play with her toys and communicate more about what she wants and needs, the TV doesn’t hold the allurement it once did. I sometimes turn on a video for her and usually she will crawl away from it interested in other toys around the apartment. She has become less and less interested in that type of stimulation. I think that has to do with the fact that it was only in moderation to begin with and it was a tool I used to “get through” a harder stage with her. Anyway, just some thoughts! I’m sure you will figure out what works for you and Micah and what you are comfortable with as a family. Love you!

  8. Mella says:

    Oh, this is the dilemna that all young mother’s are facing. Do we give in and let our children become victims to the same television habits that have trapped most Americans – or do we stand firm (and frazzled) and keep that remote out of reach?My son had zero interest in television until after he was a year old – up ’till that point, I thought we’d simply created a wonder-baby, too mentally powerful to be intrigued by the “idiot box” – but, sadly, that was not the case.We checked out some toddler television shows, designed to stimulate, not stupify, and actually came to like Blues Clues. It’s the only show on television that he’s “allowed” to watch. And we only watch it at certain times of the day – but I can say that I’ve seen it help him grow his vocabulary and he does learn from it – strange and interesting things that I probably wouldn’t have even though to start teaching him (like, how the earth orbits the sun, or how the color chartuese is made…) Recently, we added a couple of DVD’s to his “allowed” TV watching. One is Leap Frog’s Letter Factory – which teaches the alphabet and the letter sounds. In the first week of him watching it once a day, he has become *much* more verbal and interetested in what letter’s words start with, and in finding letter’s *anywhere* – it’s exciting.We also bought Baby Babble, a video designed by Speech Pathologists for babies from ages 3 to 36 months. Looks-wise, it’s sort of a ghetto Baby Einstein, but we’ve grown to appreciate it, because of the impact that it’s having on our son’s speech development. It’s very interactive and also helps teach sign language. A neat little tool.And just for fun, we bought him the Laurie Berkner Band DVD/CD for his birthday – it’s a riot. Fun, happy songs with silly performances. It’s our little Mommy-Son work-out time. We sing at the tops of our lungs and dance like fools all around the living room. It’s great – I highly recommend it. I guess I didn’t offer any advice – just sort of babbled about what’s been working for us.At the end of the day, as long as you feel your child is happy, and developing at a good pace, I guess I’d say that you shouldn’t let worries like this consume you (or cause you undue amounts of Mommy-guilt – a condition that we’re all afflicted with upon giving birth, I’m afraid…) =)

  9. maryanne helms says:

    Dear Baby Micah-I love you and am praying that you get feeling better. You are such a sweet little nephew and cousin.Love,Aunty Maryanne

  10. Anonymous says:

    The best thing for a child’s mental development is no TV for the first 3 years. NONE. Don’t be lulled into the idea that baby videos are “teaching them” something. Then after that, very limited time spent with it. Parents should rigorously discipline themselves never to watch it while the baby or toddler is awake.Parents nowadays no longer seem to use playpens, but a playpen is a godsend for keeping a child safe for a few minutes. Not the teeny pack n play, but a proper sized playpen. They can learn to pull up on the sides to standing, when younger, they can be fascintaed with a crib gym in the playpen (which is INTERACTIVE, not passive). They can learn some independent play with shape matching toys, etc. It is wrong to think of them as prisons. Today’s college students have no ability to learn any more because of all the television and computer stuff they have been exposed to. Believe me, I am serious. I have to teach them. It is scarey.

  11. Mella says:

    Hi again Susanna, didn’t want to have this turn into a debate, but I wanted to assure you that I was a well behaved, intelligent and thoughtful college student who is currently only a few months away from finishing her masters – and I acheived this despite growing up watching Sesame Street and the like. (And despite living in a household where the television was on from sun-up ’till bedtime – my mother likes the background noise)While I don’t think television should be used in excess, or at all if it’s something you’re truly uncomfortable with – it is not the devil, nor should it be blamed for the failures of parenting. As the child grows, it can be a learning tool, and in the modern age, as we’re moving further and further away from the times of paper and pencils (for better or worse), I think it should be used as one, as long as it is done so constructively and under parental supervision.

  12. Rick says:

    Great title!! Maybe we can market some whinestein videos… probably wont sell as well. It could be a good SNL skit however.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Comment to Mella,From the age you have posted on your profile, it is not your age group I am referring to. My son is about your age, and my daughter 4 years older. We didn’t even own a color TV until my daughter was about 3 and a half. Nobody had VCRs when they were babies and toddlers. Sesame Street was popular with the small kids as was Mr Rogers. But that was about all that was there to tempt them. There was no constant supply of videos and DVDs and certainly no DVDs marketed for infants. Even cartoons were more of a Saturday morning only thing. But in the last 10 years, TVs and DVD players have found their way into most childrens’ bedrooms, cable channels have massively increased the available offerings, DVD movies abound etc. And the sizes of television screens has also mushroomed, making TV so much more captivating for all age groups. I do think it is important for parents of today’s very young to realize that this is new territory, and that the amount of television their children are allowed to watch at a very young age may be tied to ADHD, autism and learning disabilities. Children read much less nowadays than 20 years ago, because TV is so much “easier” than having to form the image in one’s own mind.

  14. Susanna Rose says:

    I really appreciate all your comments …I am seriously going to put the ones I think can work into practice and see what happens!Mella-thanks for encouraging me that T.V. did not harm you and your future academics!Anon-You have some great points and I too think things like ADHD are more than likely caused from too much T.V. exposure, etc. I am really going to attempt to curb Micah’s T.V. exposure to the bare minimum or even none for now if I can…that playpen idea is an interesting one! What college subject do you teach by the way?

  15. Mella says:

    Hi Susanna, sorry to turn the comments section of this post (which is quite cleverly titled, as your husband noted), into a debate, but I did want to respond once more, if I may.Anon ~The use of television with young children does need to be a very carefully monitored thing – however, I’m not ready to subscribe to the conclusion that ADHD and/or autism is linked directly or indirectly to the consumption of DVD’s or television for that matter. I’d be more likely to believe that the preservatives in vaccinations are linked – and I have made the decision to give those to my children as well. I know that I watched a lot of television, even as a very young child – far more than simply a Saturday morning cartoon affair. Yet, I also outread all of my classmates in junior high and have carried on my love of reading, and am now passing it on to my son, who gladly eschews television for a book or a puzzle or pile of blocks. I think that the DVD’s that have come out in very recent years (too recent to be showing up in classrooms, I’d think) are better suited for babies and small children than earlier shows. They have less flashing lights/loud music, almost no jumping from scene to scene, and are slower, rhythmic and more intelligently put together. They are designed specifically to stimulate and educate – not just numb and pacify.I have relatives who are being raised, have been raised, nearly tv-less — and have shown signs of learning disorders and have one that has been diagnosed ADHD. My husband was diagnosed with it twenty-years ago, but his parents didn’t opt to give him medication or pull the plug entirely on his television viewing, and he is now a successful, functioning member of society, with a college degree. (Though, he doesn’t love reading…which always makes me sad, given my love of a good book…)I will concede also that my husband does almost always have the television on also, which drives me insane. The house is so quiet before he gets home from work. But, he functions like my mother – best with background noise.I think I’m only rambling now. My point is that, I think that you are correct in saying that television today is new territory and one that we as parents do need to be aware of – but, I guess I still ascribe to the belief that, as with just about everything, moderation is key.

  16. Jordana says:

    Hi Suzanna! Micah is sooo cute! I thought I would add my 2 cents in to the pot as well. :-)Something that Jude (6 months) loves – being carried around in the Moby wrap (sling, front carrier, etc) while I do laundry, the dishes, check email, etc. As all babies love being close to their mamas this is perfect and it offers incredible stimulation for their active little minds. Plus, you get to accomplish things that might not otherwise get begun! Hope that helps! Looks like you are an awesome mama! Keep pressin on! Jordana (Jana’s friend)

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