Ask the grumpies: Tv for toddlers

Dana asks:

My son just turned two years old and had his first television experience watching the movie “Cars” on my laptop. He mostly watched in 5-7 minute chunks as his attention span isn’t very long and he is very active. We aren’t sure what to let him watch next.  I think his attention span might be up to 15 minute TV shows and was wondering if you had advice for shows your kids liked as toddlers that aren’t too painful for parents to watch too.  Obviously not looking for violence and educational is a plus but not required.

Well, this is going to vary a lot, so check the comments for what other two year olds are watching!

DC1 was really really into frogs, so the LeapFrog dvds (particularly the early ones on phonics) were super popular at Casa Grumpy.  Dora the Explorer, also popular.  Closer to 3 ze picked up Caillou (one of DC2’s current picks) and Kipper and Blues Clues and Word World (though many parents dislike Caillou because in the earlier episodes he’s kind of a brat).

In addition to PBS Kids, where DC2 prefers Curious George, DC2 has just discovered Youtube, which has many kids tv shows uploaded to it.  Ze is currently a big fan of:  Dora the Explorer, Pocoyo (these are nice because they’re short!), Peppa the Pig, and a bunch of seriously annoying children’s shows made for Youtube.  The best of these (from the not annoying the parent perspective) is Miss Tracey singing nursery rhymes.  The worst of these is Mr. Mike doing the same thing but with his own twist.  (Licking up the baby bumblebee?  Seriously Mr. Mike?)  In between are: Mother Goose Club and Busy Beavers.  Actually Busy Beavers will annoy the heck out of you with its repetition while the Mother Goose Club isn’t so bad.

Grumpy Nation:  What are your recommendations and opposite-of-recommendations for two year old tv watching?

26 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Tv for toddlers”

  1. Zenmoo Says:

    Peppa Pig! She rocks. According to a conservative Australian columnist, she’s a feminist, socialist pink pig out to push a leftist agenda. Or to normal people she’s a cute little pig toddlers can relate to because her life is ordinary.

    Other plus points, 5 min episodes, freely available on youtube …

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      With a dad who is a grown up and fully involved parent.

      • becca Says:

        …but who doesn’t do housework or like pink. Yes, I judge DaddyPig (kiddo still watches it though).

        For first TV, we stuck mostly to Sesame Street and SuperWhy. We did do a lot of They Might Be Giants Youtube videos at that age. Both of the former are research backed to some degree, and the later I just really liked the songs (kiddo loved RoyGBiv). Probably TMBG vids are SpongeBob like in terms of ruining attention spans though.If that’s a concern, aim for things with stories… my kiddo is super active but will sit still for very long story times now. I doubt it had much to do with tv choices, but slower programs may work differently than faster paced (more scene-changing) ones.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Huh, I’ve only seen two episodes, but he did housework in both of them. (Mama Pig’s birthday and I think Muddy Puddles.)

  2. Jenn Says:

    My two-year-old LOVES Daniel the Tiger (PBS Kids). The best thing to come out of it for us is the song “Grown-ups come back” which we (and her) sang every morning when she started a new daycare.

  3. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    My 2-year-old likes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Jr. and Peter Rabbit on Nick Jr. Also consents to Peppa Pig and Henry Hugglemonster.

  4. xykademiqz Says:

    My soon-to-be 3-year-old loooves the Backyardigans. Also Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (Jenn mentioned it above), Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Pingu.

  5. Sarabeth Says:

    My kid doesn’t understand words yet, but every one of my friends with toddlers has a story about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood magically getting their kid to do something (clean their room, brush their teeth, share toys, etc).

  6. Ana Says:

    I’ve heard good things about Daniel Tiger. Mine has an amazing ability to zombify in front of a screen, so he’s watched whole movies multiple times (Toy Story 1-3, Monsters Inc & University, and Frozen), but also really likes Sesame Street episodes we find on YouTube (I try to find the original old-school ones, though he likes the newer ones—with ELMO—better) and Dora (I bought those used off Amazon for free+shipping). I kind of hate the Cailliou and Curious George shows, but the kids like those too (my MIL bought DVDs of those for us).

  7. Ana Says:

    Can you do a post on games/apps for this age group, too?

  8. Rented life Says:

    Shaun the sheep is entertaining and the segments are pretty short. We have one DVD but I think he’s now on netflix too

  9. Historiann Says:

    Old musicals are great if you want or need to have the whole family watch together: Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, the Music Man, etc. There’s something for everyone, and they’re so much smarter than anything specifically aimed at children (or even most entertainment produced today that’s aimed at so-called adults).

  10. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    Speaking of movies that hold children’s attention…Since we recently lost all the kids’ DVDs in the car break-in, we’ve been pondering which ones are worth replacing. The current answer is “not many.” It’s not that the Toy Stories and Cars and Frozen and the Madagascar movies aren’t good — because they are pretty good — but once you’ve seen them enough times, even the kids aren’t all that excited about seeing them again. I suspect we’ll rent them off Amazon if we do feel the need to watch a lot of them again.

  11. oil_garlic Says:

    I can’t get the horrible Busy Beaver songs out of my head!

  12. Cardinal Says:

    For a long time it was all Mighty Machines all the time with our twins (one boy and one girl). Also a lot of Bob the Builder. I liked Backyardigans but it was never quite as popular as Bob. And Sid the Science Kid once they were slightly older. Pingu is short. We used to have a few favourite songs by the Wiggles bookmarked on Youtube.

  13. Happy Says:

    Here’s a second for Mighty Machines – it’s a Canadian documentary style tv show about trucks, buses, trains, planes, boats etc. for kids. Much slower paced than other shows and full of wonderful information. My 3 yo son will watch an episode and then go off and replicate what he saw or make up stories that incorporate the theme. I have managed to learn a lot in the process of watching them, too. We also really like Tayo, the little bus. It’s a South Korean cartoon that you can get in English on YouTube. In ~10 minute segments, the buses are all very polite to each other which I appreciate.

  14. e Says:

    The only thing we have done is old Sesame Street DVDs — you can get some of the classics off Amazon. Our 25 month old loves it. Best to watch it alongside with her, and then repeat during the day. It has been really helpful for solidifying the alphabet and numbers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      but you have to ignore the warning label! Not appropriate for children! I think that’s because a child just goes into a stranger’s apartment for cookies, which is something we would never do now.

  15. amanda Says:

    When my ex’s daughter was little, the only show I could stand watching with her was Arthur. I’m not sure it was her favorite, but it definitely was mine. Calliou (not sure if that’s spelled right but refuse to google it) was the worst thing EVER! His baldness really creeps me out!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      With Calliou it was never the baldness so much as how the early episodes always showed Calliou behaving in realistic but irritating ways. My DC1 was such a little angel (and went to great daycares) that such behavior was new knowledge to hir!

  16. Ask the grumpies: What acceleration to prioritize and what about when they return to school? | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] case, so long as the kid is happy with it, add some phonics.  Since he likes TV, get a copy of the Leapfrog DVDs and learn their wonderful phonics songs by heart.  Sing them while doing chores.  As you continue […]

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