Keeping babies quiet and complacent is a constant challenge. As a result, many mothers tend to take the easy way out by placing their babies in front of the television. According to a recent study posted on Time, this happens most often during mealtimes, and it's a habit that may later on lead to unhealthy weight gain.

In an effort to help families cut back on habits that could lead to obesity, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied data on 217 African-American mom-and-kid pairs from the Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study. Child temperament, as well as feeding and viewing habits were monitored at three, six, nine, 12, and 18 months after birth to see what factors lead to increased TV viewing in young children.

The results showed that many mothers spend the day with their televisions constantly on, and quite often, feed their kids while watching TV. As a result, infants as young as three months old find themselves exposed to nearly three hours of television daily. By the time they reach their first year, a whopping 40 percent of the kids are already exposed to three hours of TV daily.

The study also notes that obese mothers and fussier kids tend to watch television more often. Interestingly, mothers who are more educated were less likely to expose their children to the boob tube.

Principal study investigator Margaret E. Bentley says that feeding very young children in front of the television is the foundation of bad eating habits. As TV distracts them, they fail to notice physical cues of them being full, and this may carry on until adulthood.

So instead of letting your kids spend sedentary time in front of the TV, try of thinking of fun and educational activities that can curb their fussiness. Giving them interactive toys can help develop their motor skills and keep them occupied. Best of all, spending time with them as well as being patient with them during feeding not only strengthens your bond but also teaches them proper eating habits.

(Photo by Kyle Rokos via Flickr Creative Commons)

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