I have to warn my readers that this post goes against the grain of thinking when it comes to toddlers and TV time. The AAP and other professionals recommend no screen time for children under the age of two because of risk for delays. Before I was even a mom, I swore that I would stick to that recommendation and did really well with keeping the TV off whenever J was in the room during his first year of life. However, once he hit 1 that became harder.
J has always fought having his nails clipped and while lots of people suggest I do it when he sleeps, my son wakes up the minute I enter his bedroom, so that wouldn't work for me. Unfortunately, I need to clip J's nails every other day because #1 they grow fast and #2 he digs in his ears to the point where he'll scratch himself so deeply that it causes a lot of bloodshed. That said, it is not fun to clip a child's nails when said child is trying to throw himself out of your arms and screaming and flailing about! So yes, when J was 12 months old, I started to put on PBS Sprout for 5 minutes in order to trim his nails. J gets nice and quiet, and "in the zone" so that clipping his nails is easy to do and hell, it works to do it this way!
When J didn't suddenly become a dumb child, I started to let him watch TV a tad bit more. Now I'm not saying I use the TV as a virtual babysitter by any means; I actually do believe that too much TV creates dumb people (sorry but it's true) so I still limit the viewing time to no more than 30 minutes a day, and that time is not in one consolidated chunk. Every morning when J wakes up, I change his diaper then he comes into my bedroom and watches 5 minutes of PBS Sprout while we wait for my husband to come up from his shower. Then after breakfast, J watches another 5-10 minutes while I drink my coffee. After that, there is no more TV unless J needs his nails clipped...until late afternoon. If J starts to get antsy waiting for my husband to get home from work (usually around 4:30), we will snuggle and watch a few minutes of TV til he calms down then we go back to playing. We still read a lot of books together and play outside for the majority of each day.
I do not keep the TV on at all times; it is only on for a few minutes here and there. J has not suddenly stopped developing; he was actually found to be 2 months above his chronological age in terms of his social, emotional, and verbal development. Yes, J was evaluated and that was for something completely unrelated :)
With all this said, I do want to stress that what you choose in terms of TV is entirely up to you as a parent. If you want to wait until your child is 2 to get screen time, then by all means do, and if you show TV sooner then that's your prerogative. I will say that it helps you know what your child is watching. I have found that with all the channels for little ones that I like PBS Sprout the most. There is a variety of shows on it, most of which are educational, and I can tolerate the shows...OK I like some of them. The channel itself promotes physical activity with the Super Sproutlet afternoon, and J likes most of the shows in the lineup.