In our book, Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. The scene-stealing star of Bridesmaids and Identity Thief has made us laugh so hard, we've actually cried, but now she's taking on a role geared toward a much younger audience than usual. The funny lady and mom-of-two — Vivian, 5, Georgette, 3 — is joining a long list of celebs who've visited Sesame Street to help introduce a new vocabulary word. Joining Elmo (and a penguin), Melissa will appear on the March 21 show to explain the word choreographer. Take a peek at the segment — we dare you not to laugh!
It only took four months for Disney Junior's Sofia the First to grab hold of the top spot in ratings and toddlers' hearts. The preschool-age princess who made her debut in a Disney Channel movie in November, and then went on to star in her own show in January, is now the most popular cable TV series for kids ages 2-5. She quickly won over tots and parents alike with her girl-next-door sensibility and longing to fit in with the royalty that surrounds her. The formula worked so well that Disney just ordered a second season of the show.
As Sofia's fans know, one of the hallmarks of the show is the incorporation of some familiar characters from classic Disney films like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella — among them, Clover, the boisterous rabbit who serves as Sofia's best friend and is voiced by comedian Wayne Brady. In Friday's new episode, Clover is entered into a pet contest where he performs a great hip-hop-style song called "Blue Ribbon Bunny." We've got a sneak peek of the song, and Brady's thoughts on voicing Sofia's sidekick. Check it out!
We've all heard the warnings about TV time for kids: Introduced too early it can have a negative impact on your children's development, allowed too often and their behavior, attention spans and even waistlines may suffer.
A new study, however, takes a different approach to the hot topic of kids and television.
"We often focus on how much kids watch and don't focus enough on what they watch," says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute and the study's author. "While too many children watch too much TV, this study shows that content is as important as quantity."
Dr. Christakis' team studied 565 families with children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Half of these families received a "media diet intervention," receiving advice on how to substitute violent programs like Power Rangers for "prosocial and educational" ones such as Dora the Explorer, Imagination Movers, and Sesame Street. The other half, those in the control group, didn't receive this guidance.
(Confession: My gut reaction to this premise was, 'Why is a 3-year-old watching anything but prosocial and educational shows?' Then I guiltily remembered how my own standards have slipped since having my second child. At 2 years old, she already knows the theme song to her older sister's favorite show, Spongebob Squarepants. If you've ever seen Spongebob, 'educational' probably isn't the first word that pops to mind.)
The families who took part in this study remained in regular contact with the researchers for a year after the media intervention diet was introduced and "the children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly less aggression and more prosocial behavior compared to the control group, and the effect lasted throughout the 12 months."
"It's not just about turning off the television. It's about changing the channel," concludes Dr. Christakis. He urges all parents to stage a similar media diet intervention by keeping a diary to track what kids are viewing, choosing less violent programming and watching alongside their children so that they're aware of show content.
I usually brace myself for bad news when I read studies on TV time, but this one actually helps ease my guilty conscience. Like most kids, mine watch their fair share of TV. While I'm not always militant about cutting their screen time, I do try to keep a close eye on what they're watching, making sure it's not scary or violent or — particularly for my 6-year-old, who's starting to show some interest in Hannah Montana and the like — just too mature. And every time my girls tackle a problem with an Imagination Movers-inspired "idea emergency" fix, I like to tell myself that TV may not be all bad.
Do you see anything positive about your kids' favorite TV shows?
More great reads from BabyCenter:
Kim Kardashian Braves a Pregnant Bikini Photo Shoot
Would You Leave Your Child Home Alone?
10 Secrets to Raising Awesome Kids
A Love-Hate Relationship With Pregnancy
Is This What We Want Motherhood to Look Like?
Parent-friendly programming alert! ABC has just announced that it's adding a new primetime game show to its Spring lineup, and we're loving the premise! Bet On Your Baby is an hour-long show that will feature parents trying to predict their toddler's next move. Each episode will focus on five families with tots between the ages of 2 and 3 and a half. The families will compete in self-contained challenges against the "house" (as opposed to playing against each other), and at the end of the show, they'll have the chance to win $50,000 towards their child's college education.
Bet On Your Baby will be hosted by actress and comedienne Melissa Peterman, who has had roles on a variety of network and cable television shows, and is currently part of the cast of ABC Family's Baby Daddy. "I'm very excited to be hosting Bet On Your Baby. The concept of the show just appealed to me on many levels, because as a mom, I liked the fact that the kids are having fun and being themselves — it's the parents who are playing the game. As someone who likes funny, there is no one more naturally hilarious and fun to watch than a toddler," Peterman said. We couldn't agree more! How do you think you'd fare in trying to guess your baby's next move?
We just got word via The Hollywood Reporter that Bravo has ordered up a new reality show about extreme parenting. The program's working title is Extreme Guide to Parenting, and each episode will profile two families who take an unconventional approach to raising their kids. "Whether you have kids or you're stuck next to the screaming child on a plane, judging other people's parenting is a guilty pleasure. We all love to do it," said Bravo Vice President of Development Eli Lehrer. "The series explores all manners of eccentric ways parents raise their kids, and we'll let the viewer be the judge of how they’re doing."
Among the families featured on the show, you can expect to see overprotective, aggressively competitive, nondisciplinarian, and attachment styles of parenting. So what do you think? Will you tune in to watch?
Fans of NBC's The Biggest Loser are in for a surprise when the show kicks off its 14th season this Sunday, Jan. 6. For the first time in its eight-year history, the weight-loss competition will tackle the topic of childhood obesity, featuring a teen contestant between the ages of 13 and 17 on each of its three teams. While the kids will not be eligible for elimination as the rest of the show's participants are, their weight-loss progress will be documented on the show, casting a very public eye on their personal journeys.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese, with the epidemic nearly tripling since 1980. The Biggest Loser's celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels has a personal connection to the plight of overweight kids: "As a former overweight teen, I know firsthand how dramatically weight issues can affect every aspect of a child's life. Having recently become a mother of two, I am more passionate than ever about helping empower children and families with the information and resources they need to live a healthier life."
What do you think? Is casting a public eye on the teen contestants' struggles with their weight a positive move in the fight against childhood obesity, or is putting the still-developing kids on the show too aggressive of an approach?
Thanksgiving's not all about football and turkey. In the days leading up to the feast, take some time to snuggle up with your tots for a Thanksgiving viewing party. Then, once family's in town and filled up on all of the Turkey Day fixings, relax and digest postfeast with classic Thanksgiving movies that most parents will remember from their own childhood.
Keep reading for five Thanksgiving flicks that everyone will love — whether it's their first viewing or their 20th.
Sneak Peek: Disney Junior to Launch Jake and the Never Land Pirates Shorts Featuring Scully Tomorrow
It's the pirate's life for plenty of lil ones these days, which is why we're as excited as can be for International Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow. While we're brushing up on our "scallywags" and "buccaneers," we're also gearing up for Disney Junior's new shorts featuring one of our favorite Jake and the Never Land Pirates characters, Skully (voiced by David Arquette). The series will air throughout the network's daily programming with Skully helping teach tots lil skills along the way. We've got an exclusive sneak peek of one short above, and if you're looking for more ways to celebrate the pirate way, we've rounded up our favorite ideas.
- Add some pirate booty to your lil one's bedroom.
- Download some pirate-themed apps, like Penelope the Purple Pirate to your iPad.
- If the sky's the limit, a pirate ship bed is the way to go!
- Throw your tots a pirate-themed party filled with eye patches and a pirate ship bouncy house.
- Lil mates will love to read about modern pirates, like The Pirate of Kindergarten.
- Love pirate rock? Check out our interview with Sharky and Bones — legends in the world of fun pirate rock music.
- Fill their toy boxes with costumes, toys, and playhouses that encourage them to continue their pirate tendencies.
- Tune in to the new Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Jake Saves Bucky prime-time special tomorrow night on Disney Junior.
Cover it up! Try as they might, it is not easy for a mama-to-be to hide her pregnancy after the 20-week mark. Actresses may show off their bumps to much fanfare off screen, but on screen it depends on the storyline. While some television shows lend themselves to pregnant characters, others rely on their writers to use creative means to hide their stars' growing midsections or joke about weight gain. Both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anna Paquin's recent pregnancy announcements have fans of Ringer and True Blood, respectively, wondering how their shows will address their growing midsections. Take a look back at how other shows have handled their characters' burgeoning bellies.
Leave it to Disney to bring some hunky appeal to a kids' cartoon. Josh Duhamel may be one of the sexiest actors to grace the screen, and he's doing it again, in a whole a new way. Next Friday, Josh will make his debut as Captain Flynn on Disney Junior's hit Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Though you probably won't recognize his voice — he eases into pirate-ese quite smoothly — both mom and tot will appreciate the pirate's tales about his adventures on the Never Sea. Take a look at this exclusive clip from the upcoming episode and get ready to settle in to watch the show with your lil ones next week!