Babies are finally shown what they have been missing, and now there is no turning back.
BabyFirstTV is a 24-hour channel devoted entirely to children who are 6 months to 3 years of age. The channel is available for a fee on DirecTV, and runs commercial-free.
The new channel is the latest in a growing trend of entertainment for children who are less than a year old. Sesame Workshops, creators of Sesame Street, recently released the Sesame Beginnings, a DVD series for babies that "simulates parent-child interaction." In the 1990s, Teletubbies was a pioneer in the field, introducing babies to TV with bizarre characters and repetitive songs and actions.
Critics say the new wave of "infantainment" is simply an exploitive attempt to make money.
"It's another facet of this whole commercialization of childhood where kids are seen as a market," David Elkind, professor of child development at Tufts University, told The Boston Herald.
The American Academy of Pediatricians has long stated that kids under 2 should not be exposed to TV.
On it's Website, the AAP says they "do not recommend television for children younger than two years of age. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours per day of quality screen time."
Other child-devlopment experts agree.
"The way young children learn is through interaction with people and with things, not from passive observing," said Sam Meisels, reknowned child-development expert from the Ericson Institute.
Dr. Edward McCabe, a pediatrician who sits on BabyFirstTV's advisory board, said he was reticent toward the idea in the beginning.
"I was skeptical when I first heard about it," McCabe told the Associated Press. "But I became convinced that this is a major evolution in media for kids."
McCabe is physician-in-chief at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital.
Three companies created BabyFirstTV: Regency Enterprises, a partner of Fox Entertainment; Kardan N.V, an investment group; and Bellco Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment fund.