37 answers

How Much Tv Do You Really Let Your 2 Year Olds Watch

I wanted to find out how much all you really let your 2 year olds watch tv each day? Mine seems addicted to it some days, especially when she is tired? Some days it is just so much easier after a full day of work (and I am pregnant with #2) to give in and let her watch - both in the morning and evening - but at the same time I hate letting her watch too much. Most "experts" say no more than 1/2 hour a day. What is it like for you? Thanks for sharing!!!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I know you may not believe this nut my 2 year old willl not watch tv . At least, right now unless it is ELMO!!!!
That onlyh lasts for about 15 minutes then she is up and gone again. Usually chasing after her 13 month old sister.


It is so much easier to just let them watch for awhile. Especially when you are tired. I do try to find a nice child oriented program. The ones in the morning are great, but the shows in the afternoon are more for big kids. Sometimes I think the "experts" don't really know what they are talking about. I think every once in awhile a marathon of tv is ok. Right now my little ones are sick so I am letting them watch movies all day. They can't do much and I'd rather they be resting quietly than jumping around exciting their poor tummies.

I admit...I leave the tv on disney until 11am then it's noggin the rest of the day...mostly it's background noise...but periodically the twins (3 yo) will take a break from playing and watch a show...also anytime music comes on they stop what they are doing to sing along and dance...then it's back to playing...i have noticed that some of their pretend play incorporates what they have seen on their shows as well, it's quite entertaining to watch.. ;-)

More Answers

I have a nearly 3 year old. I never used the tv to keep my daughter occupied, ever. I knew one day she would discover tv and then I would let her watch it on a limited basis. I wanted my daughter to love books and not be the tv junkie I was. TV is such a waste of time. I tape the View in the morning and watch it when she naps. Now, she is totally uninterested in tv. I plan to take her to every kiddie flick that comes out at the theatre, but I will never buy her a movie so she can watch it over and over and over again as my nephew did. My daughter's little friends come over and all they want to do is watch Nemo or some other movie and my daughter just wants to play. She plays for long periods of time happily by herself and her imagination is off the charts. She doesn't seem as "into" books as I would like her to be, but we'll see as she gets older.

I have to say I am a stay at home mom which makes things a lot easier. I am in awe of moms who work and manage to take care of their house and kiddos. Kudos to you. I know I have it easier than most. And I decided not to have another child b/c I was so worn out from the first - I do actively engage my daughter for large parts of the day - it's exhausting. So, kudos to you again for being prenant, working and taking care of your kids. I would probably do the same in your shoes, but having said that, any limiting of the tv is always best if you can manage it. Best of luck to you.

I agree with most of the other moms on this one. Dont beat yourself up over this. I have a 4 year old son and he watches TV in the morning while I am getting ready for work, it is usually on Boomerang which plays all the older cartoons that I grew up on. He also watches TV in the evening when we are winding down and cuddling on the couch. I am however very careful about what is on and what we allow him to watch. I think what you are doing is fine. Like others have said, just make sure that you are spending quality time with your daughter daily. And as far as those "experts" go, most of them have no clue what they are writing about. God gave you mother's instinct for a reason, if you think it is harmful for your children, you will know. Congratulations on the 2nd child. You sound like a great mom! Keep up the good work!-God Bless!-

I think it's all really dependent on your situation, and your child. I really try to limit the TV time and content for my 4-year old, and when she does watch TV, it's either PBS, or the occasional Disney Channel (SpongeBob is a absolute no-no at our house). My mom bought her the whole series of "The Electric Company" not long ago, and she is RIVETED!!! (For those that don't know, Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, etc. - helped teach me to read as a child). It's all 70-ish and rather cheesy, but my daughter LOVES it, and has been playing with her stick-to-the-walls-letters in the shower, and attempting to spell out her own words.

Admittedly, there are days when I REALLY need to get stuff done around the house, or need to make an important phone call, and I'll let her watch more than usual, but she is just as happy without it - playing dress-up, blowing bubbles, and stroller races with her little sister.

Now, my 1 1/2-year-old, she has NO interest in TV at all. Occasionally, Elmo or the Wiggles will hold her attention for about 2 minutes, but believe me, there are some days that I only WISH I could plop my sassy girl in front of the TV. How I would love to empty the dishwasher, without her trying to climb in it! :-D

Best wishes, and congratulations!

I too watched lots of tv when I was a kid. back then it really wasn't educational it was just entertaining! bugs bunny, road runner mr. magoo and so on! when I had my son 22yrs ago, he watched stuff like sesame street with the count and so on! I never felt guilty, just told him not to sit too close for his eyes! There are so many educational programs out there now, why would any expert say not to? most moms are busy and can't spend 24/7 playing with and talking to their kids to educate them, so why not let a good program help? Don't let these so called experts make you feel guilty, I'll bet they never practiced what they are preaching !

I understand the temptation, but resist! Supplement interactive toys. For TV type time, use educational videos, for TV time restrict to KLRU, Discovery, NASA, etc. Use TV time together to rest with shows like Wheel of Fortune, bathtime, then bedtime. Your baby is young and vunerable to the TV in general so make it specific!

I have an 18 month old little girl, and people think we are crazy but, she doesn't watch tv. We watch tv after she goes to bed around 7:30 or so. I work in a job share, and I can understand the allure to utilize the tv, and they say after about 2 years old, limited tv use is okay and there are educational programs. What I can tell you is that when a tv happens to be on (at her grandparents or friends), she ignores it and happily plays with the toys or kids. And, we haven't entered the phase of "Dora" tv that we now are sick of, or any of the other programs I hear friends complain about being sick of.. because she doesn't watch them. I think you could gradually get your little girl off so much tv use, by just limiting the time. I bet you'll find she occupies her time looking through her books and playing with her baby dolls, and it won't be such a big deal.

I have relaxed about the tv now, but until mine was 3 it was only 30-45 min and not every day. I only let her watch stuff like Baby Einstein. I let her watch more stuff now, but not certain cartoons (you know the ones that you feel dumber after watching). We try to limit the violent stuff too.


It is so much easier to just let them watch for awhile. Especially when you are tired. I do try to find a nice child oriented program. The ones in the morning are great, but the shows in the afternoon are more for big kids. Sometimes I think the "experts" don't really know what they are talking about. I think every once in awhile a marathon of tv is ok. Right now my little ones are sick so I am letting them watch movies all day. They can't do much and I'd rather they be resting quietly than jumping around exciting their poor tummies.

i WISH my 2 yr old would watch even 30 min of tv LOL it would be a nice break if i could know she'd sit there out of trouble while i got something done! my older daughter at that age would watch maybe an hour but only if it was something interactive she could dance to or something. i doubt an hour or so of tv would hurt if you need to get a break while preggo =)

O.K..... I wish I could say that "my kids only watch 20 minutes a day". The reality is - I work full time and so does my husdand. While I am getting my daughter ready for school, my 2 year old son watches Sesame street. Then we are off to day care, school, work.
In the evening - We watch all kinds of stuff - right now the outdoor channel is on - my 2 year old loves the fishing shows.
I dont watch the news with my kids around but we do watch cooking shows and "Dirty Jobs" is a family favorite.
My kids are sweet, smart, they play well with others and we are not perfect parents. We just do the best we can.
Take care,

Hello, I'm just gonna give you my opinion. I've heard a lot that you should let them watch tv like two hours top, if my mom knew that she would just laugh about it. I remember when I was a little girl I used to watch TV all the time (yes most of my day!) and I turned out just fine, I was a kid with lots of imagination and a great student. Don't worry about that, if you let her watch tv just make sure that are educational programs and a good idea it's to participate in the shows like in Dora that helps learn spanish. Also a good idea its to balance the time like going out for a walk, play at the park, doing some activities so that way she can have a little bit of everything and not thinking so much about the tv. Hope this helps.

My son is almost 3 and I have to admit he watching a bit too much tv these days. I have a 4 month old and I find that it's hard to entertain both of them at the same time, plus I really need a little quiet every now and then!

I just make sure that what he is watching is mostly educational. He has learned a LOT about animals from Diego, Sesame Street has taught him a lot of numbers and Super Why has him singing the alphabet.

I would say he watches about 3 hrs a day maybe...but he is also very active and half the time he's not even paying attention to the tv. I'm also not as conservative with limiting the tv as a lot of moms are.

I think it all depends on what programs she watches.

When I am exhausted or busy cooking/cleaning, I see nothing wrong with putting on a few episodes of Baby Einstein, Noodlebug videos, or to put on the Noggin channel. These programs engage kids and teach them numbers, colors, manners, etc. My daughter loves to dance, so she is up and moving around a lot while she watches her shows. The Bella Dancerella DVDs are Fantastic!!

I also have reading time and play time with my toddler, but the programs she watches have taught her so much!

She knows little songs, says all sorts of words in Spanish AND Chinese, she says "Please" and "Thank you" and "I'm sorry"- phrases she learned from us AND from TV.

After watching a program, I will ask her what it was about and what happened, to tell me about it- working on her comprehension skills.

My daughter is very imaginative and spends plenty of time playing with friends and playing by herself in her little kitchen.

My daughter also loves to play outside and we spend at least an hour or two a day playing at the toddler playscape.

TV has not harmed her ONE BIT and on average, she watches around 2 hours per day, usually in the morning when her little brain is fresh. Her vocabulary, analytical and social skills are that of a 3 - 4 year old, although she just turned 2.

Hope that helps....
:-) S.

I am pregnant with #2 also, due in about 4 weeks, so I totally understand the whole TV dilemna. I never used to let my daughter watch very much (maybe 30 min. per day) and it was always Baby Einstein or something of that nature. Now, to be honest, we're at about 2 hours per day some days. She watches 1-2 half-hour shows in the morning (Diego, Dora, Curious George or Super Why) and then a video in the afternoon, but only if she asks for it and I'm too exhausted to take her outside. I never offer to turn it on for her...I only do it when she asks and I don't have another activity planned. On good days, it's just one show in the morning so that I can get ready to get out of the house. On bad days, when I'm simply exhausted, she watches it more. I am fighting the guilt thing myself, but she is 2 years and 3 months old and knows all of her numbers and can count (up to 20), colors, letters (upper case and lower) and shapes. She also speaks in complete sentences (7-10 words). She is also starting to recognize words when I spell them out for her (we're working on the "at" family of words...cat, sat, rat, bat, etc), can spell her name and a few other random words. So, I do spend a lot of time reading to her and we draw and spell words a lot. I think sometimes you just do what you have to do, but I do try to avoid TV if I can help it. Just do the best you can and don't beat yourself up over it. As long as you're not spending all of your time with her in front of the TV, then no harm done.

One thing I will caution is that you shouldn't be letting her watch just because she pitches a fit if you say no. I try not to let her run the show or dictate our schedule. If I can get her interested in something else, then I do...TV is kind of a last resort in my mind.

My youngest that are able to watch tv are newborn, 1 yr and 2 yr old. They watch 45 minutes a day. That is a signing times video in order to learn some ASL. That is all. My 15 yr old watches very limited tv also. I keep them busy doing other things. I prefer to keep tv to things that are able to teach the kids things that will help with life. hth

Can I be honest here?? Yes, yes I do use the TV as a babysitter. Sometimes you just need it. My son (3yrs) watches an hour to an hour and a half most mornings...that way I can get breakfast dealt with, go take a shower, get dressed, get the baby fed and dressed, and end up ready to go out the door.

If it has been a really long night the night before and I need a nap too...I will put a movie on for my son and doze while he watches it.

While I am fixing dinner(maybe three nights a week)he will ask for a show. And he will watch another hour tops.

So he watches from an hour to four hours a day of tv. It was much more when I was pregnant with #2...he watched days of tv though my morning sickness (all day sickness) trimester, and during the last trimester when I was so exhausted.

I use it as a tool to get though the day...of course I select the best program options for him to view...we pre-record on TiVo.

Good luck and {{{hugs}}}

I am with a lot of the other moms on here in that I don't think some TV is a big deal. I mean I think if you play with your kids, hug them, read with them, just enjoy them and teach them how to be great people some TV is not a problem. I think that watching out for things with too much adult content is a good idea of course, but sesame street and Word World aren't going to hurt kids. We have our TV on a lot, but we are also playing with our baby and I am feeding him, bating him etc. I am sure when he is a little older we will have to curb some our grown up shows a bit. It sounds like you are on the right track, and I wouldn't worry too much about it. :)

Well my daughter might watch more than others but here is what oges on in my house. (My daughter will be 3 in July) When she wakes up I turn on the tv. She usually watches it while she eats breakfast and a little while longer. Then she starts to get her toys out an plays. The tv is on this whoile time, Iguess im not very green, lol, but she likes to hear it while she plays. She is very active and can entertain herself for hours with no tv so it doesnt concern me that she likes to watch it. Plus all the cartoons on NICK JR or NOGGIN in the morning are educational and she really has learned alot from them. So in my opinion who cares what the experts say! If you think they need it then manage it but they are 2 yrs old and wont remember these years any way!

With my first born, she watched about 1 hr a day. With my second born (twins), things changed. To stop all the fighting and demands from mommy, TV is on more than I would like, BUT I do monitor it. Instead of them watching TV, I put in videos...Dora, Diego, LazyTown etc. I don't leave it on all day for sound. Once I see they are done watching the shows, I turn it off.

Hope this helps.

I would stick with the less than 1/2 an hour at this age and as along as you can get away with it. Let her color, play with clay, legos, music, anything but. Too much TV viewing in very young children - has been linked to ADD later on. Tv does not really engage the mind - at all -- maybe some of the Einstein movies for little ones. Two year olds can keep them selves quite occupied - puzzles, books, do lots of reading to her - and she will love books even more. Get her a little apron and let her "help" in the kitchen while you cook -- engage her. She'll benefit so much the more as she gets older.

Well my daughter and my grandson lives with me and he is 2 and she now working on number two baby we let him watcg tv for a hour in the morning and then he get to play out side with his toys and takes a nape and then at night he get to watch it for another hour to me it depends on what you let her watch its a rated g here if i can help anymore please let me know S.

Well, I am ina vey similiar boat..I have a little boy that just turned 2 and he is obbsessed with Barney...ugh! I try to limit the TV, but he is all about watching Barney and I really let him watch at least 2 tapes (30 minutes each)in the morn and 2 at night...he doesnt watch anything else and when it is time to stop watching Barney, I just tell him Barney is tires, or wants to sleep...during the day, I tell him Barney wants us to go outside to get fresh air and we go to the park..it seems to work...good luck!

I can completely understand. I have a very active 20 month old and I am pregnant with our second one. So I usually don't feel like doing much after working all day. We have a very small patio area that is fenced in right outside our door so I was just leaving the door open and letting him play outside. But now we are starting to get mosquitoes so we can't leave the door open. But it's getting hot outside so I don't want to sit out there. So I try to get my husband to sit out there. But sometimes I just have him watch tv. He does love watching movies. He will take you over to the movies so you can pick him up and he can pick one out. But he also loves going outside. So I like to think he gets a good balance. But I will admit that sometimes he watches more than the "experts" would approve of.

My Child Development class in college strongly advised NOT to let our children watch TV. The example they gave was "we have less brain activity while watching TV than when we are sleeping". This was shocking to me and I wished I had known that when my kids were very young. My teenage son has struggled for years with ADD and it went undiagnosed. He is now on medication for ADD and I can't help to wonder. Was watching TV partially or wholly responsible for this? If I could do it all over again I would have had much stricter rules on them. I would not let them watch at all as an infant. It is easier but as a parent I'm sure you will agree we all want the best for our children and to raise them to be the best adult they can be.

I heard from our doctor that is should be an hour for each year. So your 2 year old would get 2 hours. I understand though because when I was pregnant with number 2 and my daughter was almost 2, it was a life saver! Don't beat yourself up about it. Once the baby comes, you may even use more tv because you know that your daughter will quietly watch it when you are trying to take care of the new born. I used tv a lot so I could get things done and now that she is almost 2 1 /2 and my son will be 2. We are able to watch tv the way we should and do other activities.

I would say limit the TV as much as possible no matter what age your children are. There are a lot more limitations I would put on the TV the older the child is, and that is much easier to do if they are not already use to watching a lot of TV.

I too grew up watching a lot of TV, and while I could say that I turned out OK, we grew up watching a much different version of social and moral values on TV than today's TV programs and movies. I'm shocked at what kinds of shows I hear my son's 2nd grade classmates watch.

I would also say this - My children watch TV only on Saturday mornings for about 1 hour. They could much more easily do without the TV than either my husband or I could. We TIVO shows and watch them after they are in bed. I hear others say how they got rid of their TV and are so much happier without it. I can't imagine that!

But, it looks like the way TV is pushing the envelope on the filth that they put on network TV, we may just have to get rid of the TV just to keep it from being accidently or secretly watched. Again, that would be a much harder adjustment for my husband and me than it would be for my children. So I would argue that if my children can grow up not caring if they have a TV or not, they will grow up much more "OK" than I ever did.

I know you may not believe this nut my 2 year old willl not watch tv . At least, right now unless it is ELMO!!!!
That onlyh lasts for about 15 minutes then she is up and gone again. Usually chasing after her 13 month old sister.

My 2yo son is too busy and has no interest in TV except commercials with music. At daycare they watch a few minutes early in the morning at dropoff, 30 min at 9am, then 30 min at 3pm. I don't think an hour or so a day is going to hurt anything as long as she is progressing well with all that she needs to be learning right now.

We don't have a tv, because we don't want to be in this predicament...please don't get me wrong, I'm not judging...at about 8 mo, I saw her get interested in one of my soap's and we got rid of the TV the next day. Now we have no idea how we would ever live with one again

I admit...I leave the tv on disney until 11am then it's noggin the rest of the day...mostly it's background noise...but periodically the twins (3 yo) will take a break from playing and watch a show...also anytime music comes on they stop what they are doing to sing along and dance...then it's back to playing...i have noticed that some of their pretend play incorporates what they have seen on their shows as well, it's quite entertaining to watch.. ;-)

I try to limit to one hour a day of Tivo'd shows, which is nice because when the show is over (usually Sesame Street) it stops itself and forces me to turn it off and start a new activity.

I guess we are the minority. I blocked my tv from my 8 yr old. On a rainy or super cold day we may let him watch a movie, but otherwise he can pick a 30 min show to watch a day. When he was 2, I let him watch about 15 mins a day, usually half of spongebob. I do say don't beat yourself up over it, especially if you are pregnant, that is hard enough on its own.

I enjoyed reading all of the responses. I'll add to the confessions of other guilty moms of TV watching kids. If I didn't have TV for my kids to watch, I'd be a lousy mom. Go figure that one?!?

My 2 year old watches TV while I exercise and do cleaning before we go and run errands. She watches it when she needs to wind down for a nap. If she's ever tired of it, she walks away.

I watched plenty of TV when I was a kid and I turned out OK. The programs I watched didn't teach anything like the ones that are on now. I try to keep it on Noggin or stations with similar programs. We flip through the stations to see what the Little Missy wants to watch. When I listen to her answer "Dora" when she asks a question and she actually has the right answer, I'm not feeling so guilty.

Sometimes I have the TV on for noise even if she isn't watching it. I love to sing the songs with her and we even dance. In fact, around Christmastime, she was in the repetitive movie phase. We watched Strawberry Shortcake movies all day long. I even taught her how to use the DVD player and change the movie by herself. "Why?" you might ask. The answer is because I see nothing wrong with it.

She is the youngest of 4 children, she is smart, she is active, and she is a just being a little girl enjoying her favorites. She can sing the words to all of the songs in the movies and even do the choreography to them. I find it quite entertaining and love to watch her enjoy something so much.

Now when summer break comes, it's another story. There is no way I am going to let four kids sit on their butts and watch hour after hour of Sponge Bob or Hannah Montana. That is vegetation mode. There is a difference, and we as parents know it. It's not that I oppose them watching those shows, they just aren't learning anything from them and time watching them needs to be limited.

When my older kids have to stay home from school because they are ill, they are usually miserable because I make them watch Noggin with the 2 year old or something on Discovery Channel.

Did I alleviate any of your guilt? I hope so, because I'm sure I just threw a bunch of other moms into fits! In a nutshell, you know in your gut when it's too much. I think each mom has to make this call for themselves. Wherever you go, you are going to run into all extremes from families that have no television in their homes to parents that are completely disconnected from their kids because the TV babysits them all day long.

You know the personality of your child. If you truly think she is addicted, focus her attention on other things. If not, don't worry about it.

I'm sure you are doing a great job as a mom!

It's refreshing to read others who "do" let their children watch TV...which I do. I work very part time and I've got 8 weeks of my pregnancy to go and if it weren't for TV my poor house would be such a disaster no one would want to live here! My daughter is much like her dad and even when she's not watching the TV she "knows" it's on, so my house does suffer from toy explosion often (she'll get an idea from a show and go play pretend or dress up and than when she's done she'll head back to the TV) It's hard being an only child, yet we have play dates and we do the library thing as often as we can. I do not let my daughter watch certain shows, but she's old enough (4 1/2) to know which ones she's not suppose to watch. I do believe that she is addicted. Oprah did a social experiment (just happen to be a day I watched her I think last week, not something I do all the time) and sure enough - a little 5 yr old boy had WITHDRAWL symptoms when his parents took away his video games. I believe our situation is very similar. Last week we had to wake up and hurry to get my dad to a Dr's appointment and she had a bit of meltdown because I wouldn't let her turn the TV on. I'm not proud of this, yet figure there are much worse things I could do. I often spend some time watching a show with her, just to see what she's getting out of it (I love Super Whys on PBS). I know things will have to change once she starts school, so we will have to have an intervention. I just keep thinking, with a new baby, she will be her next addiction :-) We'll see.

I never put a strict limit for them (or myself!). I let the day be the judge. I do not see anything wrong with letting the kids watch more TV one day if they are tired and need downtime. They manage themselves better and will leave the TV if they want to play. They are not ruled by it. I believe that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy to strictly limit kids in any area. They will be obsessed with it when they do get to do the activity. I have friends who say they do not let them watch TV (eat sweets, etc.--just fill in the behavior) because they will not move when the TV is on. I feel this is because they know that this is the only time they can watch it and they better not move or it will be turned off. They will not play when friends come over if the TV is on because this is the only time it is on. You have to go with what is best for your family and follow your kids' personality and maturity level. Don't give in to peer pressure on this or ANY issue. It only changes with time...Hope this helps.

I totally agree with April B I have a 3 year old and some times she watches a whole lot of T.V. I don't feel guilty because she is super smart and we get plenty of exercise and I get to maintain a clean house, or get ready for work in peace, make breakfast for her and put her in front of the T.V…I am not a morning person.
I make sure our play time together is very important including exercise and imagination.
I work full time married with a 3year old.
I take my daughter to the library almost every day, we read books outside in the patio area while she enjoys her dinner, then I run around the path at least 2 times while she listens to kids music on my player riding in the stroller, my pedometer says I am burning almost 300 calories. After I run or speed walk we go play at the playground, its our little routine she gets very upset when we don't go to the library and do all of the above.
We come home have a bath snuggle on the couch watching T.V. at 8:00 we read 3 stories and its bed time 8:30pm at the latest.
Our day is the same almost everyday, little ones love routines.
So when do I have dinner? Right when I get home I make dinner for my husband and myself and when he gets home daughters in bed and we eat and enjoy each other.
He is really missing her but they get 2 days off during the week together and the weekends he takes her to Chucky cheese and plays kids video games.

Hope you feel less guilty, just make your time together count and the kids programs on T.V. really teach kids these days.

I questioned myself too, because I have a 2 year old and a 7 year old. My 2 year old seems to be hooked on Little Einsteins,Mickey Mouse, Blues Clues,Dora, and Go Diego. At first I thought, I don't want him to become lazy and just be a couch potato, but I also looked at the positive side of it. He has learned and progressed so much by watching these shows. He talks alot and knows his colors, shapes, numbers and ABC's. He is also very active and loves to play outside for many hours. He loves to bike ride, the park, help walk the dog, go to the store, when I have to shop and jump on the trampoline. I think we have to worry about that when they reach their school age. Good luck!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.