Moving Past Sesame Street

We nearly made it to the two-year mark before allowing Katie to watch television, as we tried to follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatricians on babies and television because, well, I’m THAT mom. elmo, hipstagram photo

We caved at 20 months when she still wasn’t talking, as we were desperate and thought it might help (plus, we’re human and just needed an hour of coffee time in the morning!).  For the most part, we limit her to an hour of tv each day, which has been All Elmo, All the Time.  (I have issues with Elmo, but that’s for another post.)

Well, we’ve now reached the point where Sesame Street just isn’t teaching her anything new and she’s growing increasingly bored (read: that hour of coffee time is being seriously jeopardized).

She’s almost three, knows all of her letters and what they say and can count to twenty. Can anyone recommend some commercial-free programs with an emphasis on learning?  Please?  I really need that hour!


  1. I totally was that mom too until I broke down after I found myself hitting my head against the wall and realized I just needed an hour or two to myself a day. My daughter is only eighteen months and we let her watch "Nihao Kilan" on Nick and I kid you not she learned how to say hello, grandpa and happy in english and grandpa in chinese.

    "Word World" on PBS is pretty good but only lasts 30 min. Enough time for a cup of coffee and a chance to sit down.

    Hope this helps and hope you get that hour!

  2. Nichole

    Thank you so much for the suggestions. I'll try "Nihao Kilan" and also DVR "Word World" and let her watch two episodes. That hour will give me chance to have my coffee and check out your blog! Coffee+blog reading=happier mommy!

  3. Sunshine

    PBS and Nick Jr. have no commercials. Both are relatively safe for children's programing, the only thing that may be a deciding factor is how-annoying-is-it-to-adults!
    On PBS try "Sid the Science Kid" – done by Sesame Street folks. Maybe be a little old for Katie, but it'll be something new for her. "Curious George" is also another stand-by. "Between the Lions" does a lot with phonics/reading/books.
    "Jack's Big Music Show" is on Nick Jr. My two LOVE the music (and I don't mind it myself!) and it definitely exposed us to new & fun children's music (we love Laurie Berkner!). We also watch "Blue's Clues" on Nick Jr.

  4. Nichole

    Thanks, Sunshine! I appreciate the tip about the commercial-free channels. I just don't feel good about letting her be the prime target audience of marketing companies. There are only so many years where she'll be under my influence only. ;) She doesn't yet know that sugary cereals exist, and I'd like to keep it that way for a while.
    "Between the Lions" sounds great–she sounded out the word "hot" the other day and I nearly passed out. Little smarty pants.

  5. jaseza

    We love Curious George. Word World is awesome as well. I hit up PBS Sprout when in need of "clean" television viewing. On a side note, I grew up without a TV until 13 and while I loved how it turned my attention to other things such as outdoors, books, independent play, it also helped me relax about TV viewing for my kiddos. There are always the shows that neither one of my kids can watch…always…but seriously, if you are a well-rounded parent raising well-rounded kids than you really don't have to worry about your children watching a little bit of TV. :)

  6. Sunshine

    Our cable system also has some free "on demand" children's programing. That is commercial free too (except for other shows).
    Nick Jr. is great – I generally feel pretty safe there – between the shows they do songs, educational programming (shapes/puzzles/letters), and craft ideas. Other "children's" stations (Disney, other Nick stations) will not show commercials during the shows, but in between programming – which is still no good for me!

  7. brandy

    I bet Katie would enjoy Super Why! on PBS.

  8. Melissa

    My 3 1/2 year old is not a tv watcher…she still will not sit through a Disney movie…even at the movie theater with popcorn and candy…OK, I am on my 5th child…I was "that" kind of mom with my first two…BUT, my daughter loves Super Why on PBS. I DVR the shows I like so when I need a break, she can watch one of her favorites. Good luck…"Mommy time" is hard to come by!!!!

  9. We watch more TV than what's recommended and both of my kids have thrived, both socially and verbally, so I think a whole lot of that AAP recommendation stuff is crap.

    That being said, WHAT my kids watch is way more important to me.

    Nick Jr. and PBS Kids are all great. We love Team Umi Zoomi – which teaches math and patterns, Dora, Curious George, Imagination Movers.

    Whereas I don't think people should plop their kids in front of a TV for hours and hours a day, I think there's way too much of a stigma on it and that a lot of kids can benefit from a lot of these shows, in moderation, of course.

  10. Sara

    Have you ever thought about something like Yo Gabba Gabba? It's a pretty popular kids show. It's colorful, has lots of music, and each episode has some kind of lesson like don't bite your friends, saying sorry, stuff like that.

  11. Nichole

    Thanks for the link, Sara! Katie actually has a Yo Gabba Gabba dance pad (yeah, it is as funny as it sounds!) but she's never seen the show. I read somewhere that Jack Black and other celebrities make guest appearances. We'll check it out. Do you let Penny watch? Matthew is more determined to watch than Katie ever was and he will crane his neck like nobody's business to try to catch a glimpse.

  12. Nichole

    You raise a good point, it really is the quality of the programming that matters more than the quantity. I just think of my own childhood, where I watched more television than I let Katie, and I wonder if my couch potato tendencies aren't tied to those hours in front of the television. But I was of a different generation–one that predates any AAP guidelines, when no one said "they say…". I guess, like everything else, moderation is key. And yeah, your kids are too darn cute and look ridiculously smart and happy.

    Katie would love Team Umi Zoomi, as she has her dad's logical brain (what's that about?). I'll off to DVR that. Thanks!

  13. Nichole

    I poked around a bit and I think you're right. I also downloaded the Super Why app. I love supporting PBS, too!

  14. Nichole

    Thanks, Melissa. We're lucky that Katie is content with just an hour of tv each day. Oftentimes, she'll wander off, play, and return to watch bits and pieces.
    I wouldn't dare take her to the movies yet–I'm sure we'd be kicked out because she'd fidget so much!

  15. Nichole

    Word World has been a popular suggestion. I'm so eager to see it. I think I've seen their products at Target (?).
    You make a good point though–that if screen time is balanced with art, music, reading, outdoor time, and creative play, it won't turn her brain to mush. ;)

  16. jaseza

    I meant to mention Charlie and Lola; based off of the books by Lauren Child. You can find the shows early morning on the Disney Channel (we record).

    We have many days with no TV at all…not cause it's a concentrated effort on my part, but more because Keelie is an awesome independent player with an imagination that won't stop. But, I am totally more concerned with what she does watch…for instance, Caillou?!?! While some episodes are fine…there are others where the writer has the child throwing tantrums while the parents just sit back and say "kids will be kids"…uh yah, NOT this parent. :)

  17. Lyndsey


    I love the PBS shows everyone has mentioned as well as the Nick Jr. shows. I really like the Backyardigans for the singing and creative ideas. We also like Max and Ruby and The Wonder Pets. I don't really like the Duck with the terrible "r's" but that's just my speech therapist pet peeve…it's still developmental Lyndsey..let it go!!!

  18. Nichole

    Katie watched "Super Why" today and was really into it. I have tried "Max and Ruby" once before and she wasn't into it for some reason. I'll check out the "Backyardigans" too. Her creative side is developing and I think she might really like it.

  19. Sara

    Yes, I do let her watch. Mostly she just watches that or Elmo. She usually watches if I am getting ready for work in the morning or doing dishes at night since my husband works late. It's not something we plop her in front of often…maybe 20 minutes at a time (until she loses interest) a few days a week.

  20. Nichole

    I sometime think that the people who write up all of the guidelines are childless and have no idea of what it's really like to need to juggle a zillion things.
    It really is all about moderation–and sometimes survival.

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