I Want My Baby TV!

ByABC News via logo

May 11, 2006 — -- BabyFirstTV, the first 24-hour channel with programming catering exclusively to children ages 6 months to 3 years old, premieres today through DirectTV.

How young is too young? The American Academy of Pediatrics says most of that age group shouldn't be watching TV at all.

"Using videos and television in this age range is basically an uncontrolled experiment on youngsters," said Dr. Donald Shifrin, the organization's spokesman.

For many harried parents, though, keeping the TV turned off is all but impossible. At least BabyFirstTV encourages parents to watch TV alongside their children, even offering instructional subtitles on the screen.

"BabyFirstTV helps parents become better parents," said Dr. Edward McCabe, physician in chief at Mattel Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, and a paid adviser to BabyFirstTV. "It's taking a passive medium and making it an active medium."

Though early studies have hinted that too much TV for youngsters may correspond with attention problems later in life, experts warn that there is no hard scientific data on the subject, muddying the waters for both parents and pediatricians.

The channel is just the latest addition to a fast-growing market aimed at the diaper demographic, following in the footsteps of Disney's Baby Einstein products and the recent debut of "Sesame Beginnings," a DVD series that encourages learning through parent-child interaction.

Experts agree that programming that encourages parental interaction is a step in the right direction when it comes to watching the tube. Without conclusive evidence showing any potential benefits or harm from this type of programming, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to discourage children under the age of 2 from watching television.

"No television screen has the interactive range or the emotional concepts that occur when a parent and a child or a caregiver and a child interact," Shifrin said. "No television can duplicate that."

ABC News' Heather Nauert originally reported this story for "Good Morning America."