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Which TV shows are best for very young children?

First, consider whether your child has the attention span to watch a full show. Many series designed for the youngest viewers break shows into 10- or 15-minute segments. Start with a single segment of a show and see how engaged she is. If she's riveted, you can try a 30-minute show. You have literally thousands of options. Find a subject she likes, check our age ratings and reviews, determine a limit (one show, two shows?), and watch together if you can. Get more ideas for introducing preschoolers to their first TV shows.

TV shows that are short and gentle, have positive messages, and are ad-free (ideally) are best for young kids. They enjoy programs with very simple messages they can relate to, such as getting dressed in the morning. Try any top picks from these lists: Best Preschool TV, Sprout TV, and Disney Jr. TV. And keep these tips in mind:

  • Many half-hour shows, such as Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, actually contain several shorter segments you can start with.
  • Avoid scary stuff, explosions, people yelling, and cartoon violence.
  • Look for shows with positive messages, such as the value of being a good friend.
  • Do what you can to limit commercial exposure -- kids absorb those messages like sponges.
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