Baby's First Cable

by Mad Dog & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's amazing that it's taken this long, but finally we have a cable channel programmed for babies. I didn't say "by babies" -- that would, of course, mean Anderson Cooper is the head of programming. No, this is a 24-hour channel created specifically for infants. After all, it must get boring spending all your time eating, crying, pooping, sleeping and trying to figure out why everyone who looks at you makes a funny face and speaks English like, well, a baby. No more! Now, thanks to BabyFirstTV, infants can break up the monotony by watching shows like "Brainy Baby," "I Can Sign" and "Play With Me" -- the latter of which will probably be the first words they speak. OK, right after "Get me away from this freaking TV!"

Why shouldn't we have a channel for tots? After all, we already have the Golf Channel ("It's always a good time to fall asleep"), the Outdoor Channel ("Clean Hands. No Sweating. No Mosquitoes."), and the Military Channel ("Drop and give me 20 pauses on the remote!") for us adults, why not something for the little ones? Hey, we don't want them to grow up thinking we didn't care enough to shell out an additional $9.99 a month for a cable channel they can call their own, now would we? It's a small price to pay now to save on therapy bills later.

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & ctually, it's probably a good idea to have a channel just for infants. After all, they're going to watch TV anyway. A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-third of children up to age 6 live in homes where the TV is on almost all the time, so unless they're too busy trying to figure out the best place to spit up without it being discovered for three smelly weeks, they're already seeing plenty of TV.

Wouldn't it be better for them to watch "Tillie Knock Knock" than Rick Springfield returning to General Hospital after 25 years of playing "Jessie's Girl" at state and county fairs all over the land? OK, bad example. That's what's known as a no-win situation, much like not filing your taxes so you don't have to send the IRS a check, actually answering the question "Do these pants make my butt look big?" and the war in Iraq.

The Kaiser survey also found that one child in five under the age of 2 has a TV in his or her bedroom. Who cares if the American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 2 shouldn't be watching any TV at all? This is the same bunch that claims babies shouldn't sleep on their stomachs, ride in a car without a car seat or have Britney as a mother. Maybe all this TV watching at an early age helps explain why a survey by National Geographic found that one-third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 couldn't find Louisiana on a map, seven in 10 were unable to locate Israel and 60 percent couldn't locate Iraq without enlisting, yet 94 percent knew Dora the Explorer and wondered why their AAA maps don't have eyes and talk to them like Map does.

The founders of BabyFirstTV say their programs are educational. While "Yoyo and Peanut," "Bobby's Balloons" and "Petey's Paintbrush" all sound like heady learning experiences, it's a safe bet that in the second season they'll start airing shows like "The World's Top Mobiles," "Bottles -- Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing" and one dedicated to the baby's future if it spends too much time tuned in to BabyFirstTV, "American Idle." All they'll need to do is add a food show and they'll give a whole new meaning to pablum on TV.

If the channel's a success, it will undoubtedly spawn new products for babies, like Cheetos-flavored formula, the La-Z-Baby Reclining Crib and T-shirts that say "My Mom and Dad had afternoon sex for the first time in years and all I got was to watch BabyFirstTV." Can the online store be far behind?

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he creators of BabyFirstTV say the channel's a good thing and will aid interaction between infants and parents because they'll fall sleep -- I mean, watch TV -- together. Right. And a pinch of cyanide brings out the flavor of Kool-Aid. There's nothing quite like bonding over the TV to get life started on a good footing, but why wait until the baby's born? Why not start showing them TV while they're still in the womb? Parents play Mozart by pressing a speaker to Mom's stomach in the hope it will make them smarter (when all it really does is make them rebel against classical music and become devoted Megadeth groupies by the time they're 4 instead of 14).

But since BabyFirstTV's Web site says they offer "stimulating daytime and soothing night/naptime content," how can it hurt to sidle up to the TV and put your pregnant stomach against it? During the day, it will stimulate them and at night it will soothe. Remember, you're never too young to start falling asleep in front of the TV.