She Says… Couch Potato

Owen is obsessed with all things technology-related. Phones. Remotes. Power cords. Light switches. Night lights plugged into the wall. Heck, anything plugged into the wall. Outlets. Computers. iPods. He wants to touch them, explore them, eat them. Mainly just eat them.

And then there’s this.

Kind of the king of all things that light up and make noise, right? Well, not to Owen. He has almost never seen the thing on. And I like it that way.

But given the bouts that we’ve had with Owen’s scary asthmatic breathing in the past when he’s been sick, we’re trying to follow the doctor’s orders and give him this preventative breathing treatment once a day. It’s only about 8-10 minutes, but imagine trying to hold a hurricane in your arms for 2 minutes. Let alone 10. It’s… trying. On all of us. And the ONE THING that makes it bearable is the tv. Brightly colored cartoons and Sesame Street-style music hold his attention for at least 2 out of the 10 minutes. Especially since he doesn’t even see that amazing thing on at any other point during the day. And that’s 2 minutes that I don’t have to be singing/bouncing/holding the mask/holding down his hands.

For awhile we only gave him the “emergency” albuterol treatments when he was so sick that his wheezing was audible or when the doctor said we should. Now that we have been through those episodes a few times, we know exactly what they look like and sound like, and I know when to give him the albuterol without the doctor even having to see him. In addition to those treatments, the doctor suggested that we add the daily preventative treatment with a different medicine in it. To be honest we gave up on that pretty quickly. It’s one thing to give it to him when he’s sick; quite another to try to pin him down when he’s perfectly healthy. It’s hard to stop your rambunctious, happy toddler from playing and walking and exploring and try to stick a mask on his face and hold his hands down so he doesn’t pull it off. We reserve those fights for when he really, really needs it.

Now before you get all “what a bad mother, she’s not giving her son his medicine” on me, please note: since he’s so little and can’t do some of the diagnostic tests for asthma, no one is really convinced that he actually NEEDS this daily treatment. It’s possible the asthmatic breathing only happens when he’s sick (though you all know how much he’s been sick in the last 6 months!). So that makes it even harder to commit to giving it to him daily. I’m not entirely convinced he needs it. I mean really. He is the most active little toddler I’ve ever seen. He never stops moving. His breathing is fine.

But there is a part of me that doubts my own intuition on this one. What do I know about asthma? I don’t have it. I don’t know what it feels like. And I don’t even know what Owen is feeling, exactly, so I don’t want to be making a decision about his health without the proper medical information.

So since the last episode of asthmatic breathing that required albuterol treatments, we’ve been doing our best to give the daily treatments. For 8-10 minutes at some point after dinner and before bedtime, we, Owen, Benjamin and I, sit on the couch and try to make a nebulizer treatment fun.

This is a nebulizer. Ours has a tiny little mask with a fish face on it that is supposed to make it fun. Owen doesn’t care.

So we pour medicine mixed with saline into the the blue and white canister, attach it to the tube which connects to the nebulizer, and turn it on. The loud motor pushes air through the tube, which then turns the liquid medicine into mist, and it’s blown into Owen’s nose and mouth through the mask.

The main problem is the mask. Owen won’t tolerate it being held onto his face with the elastic band provided, so we took the band off and I just hold it against his face. Then he tries to chew the corners and rip it down and throw it on the floor, which sometimes results in me spilling the medicine and getting incredibly frustrated. So our recent plan of attack is to have Benjamin hold Owen on his lap, turn on something cartoony and musical on the tv, and bounce his legs and play with his hands while I play defense and try to keep the mask against his face.

I’ve realized two very important things:
1. MUSIC is very important. If there is a period of talking on tv, he gets totally bored and begins pulling at the mask again.
2. MOVEMENT is very important. We have to bounce his legs and dance his hands. The second we stop, the pulling and squirming ensues.

When we have the magic combo of music and movement, he’s mesmerized and forgets all about the mask. The TV is a huge help in getting to that glazed over look we’re going for. But since we’re trying to do this every night, we’re realizing quickly that there is NOT always (ever?) a good baby-friendly cartoon on tv.  I’m not up on my cartoons these days, so I don’t even know what to Tivo. I’m thinking investing in a dvd or two would be our best bet.

Do you let your child(ren) watch tv? What are their favorite shows? Do you know of any mostly musical cartoons that Owen might enjoy?

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24 responses to “She Says… Couch Potato

  1. It’s crazy to see how small the nebulizers are these days! I only had to use it on occasion when I was little (either really sick or when my allergies would induce my asthma) but that thing used to be the size of a sewing machine! I’ve got nothing on the tricks since I was already old enough to understand I needed to do it, sorry!

  2. I used to have to use a nebulizer with a kid I nannyed and the doctor told us we didn’t have to hold the mask right on his face. I was told that holding it close enough so he still breaths it in is good enough and might ease some of your struggles. I’m no doctor but just my experience. Good luck!

  3. I let Eli watch tv for about an hour in the mornings while I eat breakfast and get ready for the day. Truthfully, though, he only pays attention to it for a few minutes at a time. We only watch PBS and he loves Curious George, Super Why & Dinosaur Train. Mostly, he loves the music. Sometimes I will stream Veggie Tales on Netflix for him… he LOVES the songs. I think they might have a whole DVD that is just Silly Songs with Larry. Good luck!

  4. The Laundry Lady

    We let our daughter watch the original Winnie the Pooh movies on rare occasions, like when I’m too sick to be able to keep her happy all day. We probably have maybe two or three movies in the house that she is allowed to watch. Usually she gets bored after a while and goes off to play with something else. We prefer slower moving shows, that encourage a longer attention span (think Mr. Rogers) and things that encourage reading. (She is now more in love with the Winnie the Pooh books than the movies). I’m not a fan of most little kids shows and cartoons. Plus there has to be singing in the movie to keep my daughter happy. She loves all music.

  5. I just have to say that it’s pretty impressive that you’ve kept TV away from him this long. I’m not a fan of the TV being a babysitter for a child, but can totally see the merit in it as a distraction for a few minutes a day.

  6. My grandson is absolutely in love with Baby Genius Favorite Nursery Rhymes and Favorite Children’s Songs…all music and lots of action on the screen. These two DVDs were the most successful we found for a little guy who loves music and does not watch TV except at our house.

  7. Good old Baby Einstein. SO simple, yet so mesmerizing… And great music – all the upbeat classics.

  8. Try Yo Gabba Gabba on Nick Jr. It’s not a cartoon, puppets and live action but it’s a ton of music.

    Also The Backyardigans, but that one probably has to much dialog to hold his attention for long. Same thing with The Wonder Pets. I worked on Bubble Guppies. The musical segments are great but they are only about two minutes each. Good luck.

  9. We mostly tried to keep A away from screens when she was a baby. The current recommendation from American Pediatrics Association (or whatever their acronym is) is no screens for kids under 2. Meh, we didn’t really make that, but I feel fine that we’re doing ok.

    Anyway, a few suggestions for the computer or Android/iPhone or Internet-connected home theater display:
    – the trailer to the movie: Babies (YouTube, or HD from Apple)
    – song clips from The Muppet Show are hilarious to you and baby and guaranteed clean (YouTube)
    – the They Might Be Giants kids’ album comes with videos and they are great songs and cute videos (Amazon, iTunes)
    – Sesame Street song clips (YouTube)

  10. Youtube! My Bennett will only pay attention to tv for about a minute, but LOVES watching Sesame Street videos on youtube. He’s also much more into the songs. We use an iPad and/or Apple TV (because my husband does that stuff for a living so we have all the gadgets) but maybe even sitting in front of the computer instead of tv? If that’s possible, some of his favorites are Elmo’s Song, Elmo’s Ducks, the Snuffle Shuffle, and a bunch of other annoying songs that will get stuck in your head for weeks on end. And “It’s Time To Dance” from Yo Gabba Gabba.

    I definitely don’t envy you–I have a hurricane toddler too, and can only cut one or two nails at a time before he squirms away, so I can’t imagine keeping him still for 10 minutes. Good luck!!

  11. Faith doesn’t really pay much attention to the TV, but Yo Gabba Gabba did seem to capture her attention when it was on once. It made me want to start digging a spoon into my ear to distract myself from the pain of listening to it, but I bet Owen would like it. :)

  12. Yep, we’ve been there. And like you, I’m not totally convinced that Ryan has asthma, but at the same time, it’s sort of the best and most logical guess. So we only give the treatments when he has a flare up (always when he’s sick, like Owen), and we don’t do the preventative. It’s simply too torturous for all involved, and probably does more to harm him then help him.

    And I try to keep the TV off as much as I can. I try to remember to play music more than have the TV on when he’s awake… but I’m not great about it. Ryan, however, is totally disinterested in the TV most of the time. His toys (or an ibuprofen bottle.. or the remote…) are way cooler, in his opinion.

  13. We don’t have cable at all, but we do have Netflix instant streaming through the Wii, which is wonderful for two reasons: 1) None of us are parked in front of the TV for hours on end watching show after show and 2) you can just skip straight to the kid’s shows for emergency necessities. I hate to say it, but I bet Owen would love Dora or Diego. I know my girls do!

  14. yes, i let my 11 month old daughter watch t.v., not gonna lie. It’s just too hard not to when I just need 20 minutes to do something. I have the TV on a lot when I am home with her and she really just ignores it unless I put on music or a kids show. I’m a big fan of Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s pretty slow moving, has tons of songs (which are really catchy and I actually like them which show how lame I really am) and she LOVES it. I mean, she dances every time she hears the theme song. She goes to our coffee table, stands there and does her little dance and claps like crazy. If you have On Demand, it’s on there!

  15. My baby is only 9 days old, but of the things my nieces and nephews watch, Veggie Tales are the only videos I have found that don’t make me want to stab myself in the eye lol. They are actually pretty cute and entertaining :)

  16. Ok, I’m putting it out there – The Wiggles! Yes, their songs are annoyingly catchy and they’re a little odd as a group, but it’s ALL music and movement. My son has loved them since the first time he saw them when he was a year old (during a similar “quick, distract the baby!” situation) and now he knows all the songs and the dances. It really is just music and movement, and it was actually a great way to kind of channel my son’s energy – he started following the directions of the songs, he sings along during the call and repeat stuff. Right now for Owen, though, I’m sure he’d just be appropriately and helpfully distracted by the bright colors, the songs and the dances. Good luck!

  17. We do have to monitor Sam tele and limit, but he loves ANYTHING with muppets, so he watched a LOT of Sesame Street. At night it’s easier for him to lay down and calm when I put something in-most of the time we watch a Disney Pixar movie before bed. It helps relax him at night and he goes to sleep much easier. He’s 18 months, and during the day if he gets way too rowdy, then some tv time helps us all. I honestly don’t care if people don’t think he should be watching tv, he’s very smart, very healthy, and doesn’t want to sit there all day (whether I wanted him to or not). If it works and makes your day easier-what is stopping you? You know what is best for him-don’t worry what others say.
    My sister and I both watched more tv than my son does as babies and she’s a physics teacher and I’m about to go into the medical field with an IQ of 144. Not too shabby if I say so myself. ;)

  18. Baby Einstein is good with the bright colors and music. Hopefully Owen will grow out of his need for nebulizer treatments. I had asthma as a child and it would only flare after I had been sick – otherwise, you would have never known I had it. I grew out of it by middle school with no problems since so hopefully this won’t be something that Owen has to deal with too much. Good Luck!

  19. At the recommendation of a friend, we purchased Baby Signing Time. The entire DVD is song/music based, full of images of adorable babies signing, and (of course) teaches sign language. My only caution against it, in your case, is that the signs require movement – a lot of them near the face – which could make your nebulizer treatments even harder. I purchased the DVD for 15 month old Wes who won’t speak a word…and he won’t watch it for a second, so it was a bit of a waste, at least right now.

  20. If you have cable, most have an On Demand option with kids shows that are always available. They rotate the episodes but usually they have the same shows. Often their is a babies sectionals well. It is officially aimed at slightly older kids (like toddler-preschool age so still very innocent) but Little Einsteins has lots of catchy songs set to classic music it is a pretty cute show! (Netflix streaming might be a good plan too, they also have kids shows.)

  21. Signing Time DVDs! Then he can learn some more sign also, and they are full of songs! My son particularly likes the one that sings about a house and a family (Everyday Signs maybe…not sure.) These helped us make a very long car trip bearable last summer.

  22. Ha! This is my area if expertise lol I was the editor of 3 tv shows that work wonders in ‘catching’ my own 10 month old son’s attention:
    Waybuloo
    Super Why!
    Toopy & Binoo

    Something that is awesome but that I did not work on -and that works even better:
    Yo Gabba Gabba
    Try that one – the music videos are really fun:)

    Good luck!

  23. We have had to use the nebulizer on my DD too (same age as Owen). One time we had to go to the ER, and they gave her some neb treatments there and used a blue tube on the end of the nebulizer, instead of the mask. They gave us a few to take home because it works much better than the mask. All you have to do is aim the tube at her nose/mouth. So, we just try to distract her with a bunch of toys and keep aiming the tube at her nose/mouth even if she is moving around. It still requires two adults though, but is much better than the mask.

  24. I just stumbled across your blog and have no idea what your past history is with your son’s breathing issues, but if you haven’t done it or considered, try a pediatric pulmonologist. Since he was 4 months old, my son wheezed every time he got sick, and we needed to use the neb. Around 9 months, we saw a pulmo, and she put him on inhalers (that you use with a spacer). Instead of -10-15 minute breathing treatments, it takes seconds to give him his meds.

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