Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Baby First TV

By Christina VanGinkel

We have a satellite dish for our TV viewing. With it, we are able to view literally hundreds of channels. Recently, flipping through the included onscreen guide, I came across a channel that I was not sure I had noticed before. I had not subscribed to it, and what later found out was that I was actually viewing a sneak preview of the Baby First TV channel, a satellite and cable channel that is filled with programming for baby. Reread that last bit if you think I said about baby, as that is not what this channel is about. It is programming made exclusively for the entertainment of babies.

While I am not a fan of parking a child in front of a television set to keep them occupied, I nonetheless was intrigued by a channel that was supposedly filled with educational, fun shows just for them. What I discovered were shows that not only seemed like they would be good fun for young babies, but also for kids up through about kindergarten. And while there are other channels already available that carry programming for kids, this channel's programming is definitely different than what is already out there.

They have a show, I Can Sign, that teaches signing, which is a task that more and more childcare specialists are promoting for interacting with young children who cannot yet verbalize vocally their wants and needs. I also thought this was a great idea for children in general, especially as children who need to sign could potentially be your own child's classmate, neighbor, or best friend. They also have a show Black & White, which is created with the color scheme of black and white. Very young infants have long been known to be stimulated by this stark color difference.

The Number Farm gets the youngest kids counting along with Peep the chick and all the farm friends. Sandman allows young viewers to watch a sculpture shape all sorts of creations out of sand. As the name suggests, this can be a very soothing show for kids to watch. That aspect seemed to be a big part of what this channel is all about. While a lot of channel's shows that are supposedly geared for young children are loud, action packed to the point that they could be described as inciting of children's erupting, this channel's program often seems to have the opposite effect. Many of the shows have a very specific task that they are helping infants and young children to learn, or are at the least helping kids to keep calm while taking in some often useful information. Besides the shows I listed, there are several more regulars, including Rainbow Horse, Color Symphony, Brainy Baby, and Hide and Seek.

While I am still not a fan of the act of sticking a child in front of a television to occupy their time, I think there is a lot to like in this channel's offerings. If a mother were having a hard time getting a little one to settle down for a feeding, or to be soothed to sleep while being rocked, turning on this channel for a bit of extra soothing could come in handy for the fussiest of kids. If a parent or caregiver had several young children, playing together while he or she supervises, and something tempting other than the other child could keep one child from hitting or poking at the other one for a few minutes, this channel might be just what they need. That they might actually learn something, while watching is a bonus.

If you are interested in learning more about this channel, check them out on the web at BabyFirstTV. Be sure to read the section on what this channel can do for you and your child. It has some interesting facts listed, including that instead of just another channel; it should be looked at as an educational tool. There is also an explanation there on how the programming guide that accompanies the channel is color-coded. The flower logo that accompanies each show changes color according to the shows value. The following chart is included on the site to help you discern what value your child might gain while watching their programming:

Yellow Flower for Thinking Journey (creative thinking)
Blue Flower for Numbers Parade (math)
Green Flower for Sensory Wonderland (sensory)
Red Flower for Language Playground (language)
Orange Flower for Feelings Garden (social skills)
Pink Flower for Imagination Lane (creative play)
Multi-Colored Flower for Rainbow Dreams (soothing lullabies)

If you have a young child and have a chance to check out this new channel, do so. You just might find it as interesting as I did.

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