If you have a baby, chances are good you've heard of (and probably spent many hours watching and/or listening to) CoComelon. The Netflix show and most-watched YouTube Channel out there is a family favorite, and babies, toddlers, and even some older kids just can't seem to get enough of it. But after days spent watching the same thing over and over again, you might start to wonder why, exactly, babies love CoComelon so much.
Is it the realistic 3D animation? Is it the repetitive nursery rhymes that get stuck in your head for days on end? Is it the bright colors that flash in their little faces? According to experts, it's a mixture of all of these things, and a little bit more. "Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers find these programs attractive because they provide a multi-sensory experience that is engaging without being overwhelming," Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, explains to Romper. "Young children are drawn to the bright visuals — especially the focus on big eyes and faces — the repetitive music and sounds, and the constant movement and action on the screen."
While young kids love the sounds and songs they hear on CoComelon, the animation and the bright colors are really what draws them in. Beurkens says that what sets something like CoComelon apart from other animated shows is that it's stimulating without being overwhelming. "The graphics are simple, and characters often have larger heads/faces because babies and children are naturally drawn to them, just as they are to the faces of people in real life," she explains. "These videos have constant action, but not so fast-paced that it is overwhelming."
One glimpse at CoComelon, and you'll notice how bright it is. Babies love this, because it works with their line of vision. Laura Froyen, Ph.D., a family therapist, explains to Romper, "Babies and toddlers are naturally attracted to bright, flashy visuals mainly because their vision is still developing. They tend to prefer brighter colors with more contrast because they can see them better. They also are easily distracted, so fast moving and flashy images hold their attention longer by consistently redirecting their focus."
Specific hues are in the videos for a reason, too. Jocelyn M. Wood, a bilingual speech language pathologist, tells Romper that bright colors can help stimulate a child's cognition. "Children are naturally drawn to the colors of the color wheel — red, blue, green — which are seen throughout the CoComelon videos," she explains. "The bright colors in CoComelon are so distinct that it will really help a child to identify individual colors, which will lead to color naming."
It's not just the colors, though: it's also the repeated nursery rhymes and phrases. This repetition that we, as adults, probably find to be extremely annoying is another thing that makes babies and young children so entranced. "Children’s brains thrive on patterns and routine," Beurkens says. "There are patterns of visuals, sound effects, music, and the flow of activities that is consistent and predictable throughout each video episode."
So while you might get irritated by hearing the same nursery rhyme over and over again, your little one is actually loving it — and genuinely learning from it. "Children often want to hear the same songs and read the same stories over and over because that is how they learn best," Froyen says. "They have very limited long-term memories, and so they use strategies like rehearsing and repetition to move things that are important to them from working memory into short-term memory. Repetition is also one way they process new information."
At the end of the day, babies love CoComelon because it's bright, flashy, entertaining, and full of repetition that feels comforting to them. But is it a bad thing if you let them watch it every now and then? Opinions are mixed, but Froyen recommends a balance.
"Currently the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend limiting screens for children under 2 to one hour a day or less of high quality programming, and that parents view alongside their child and then reteach and rehearse afterwards," she says. "They strongly recommend that kids under 18 months only use screens interactively, like for video chatting. That said, balance is incredibly important, and if a show your child loves allows you to make a meal or engage in self-care, it's OK to consider the health and well-being of the whole family." Even if that means you're singing CoComelon songs the rest of the day.
Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., CNS, licensed psychologist
Jocelyn M. Wood, M.A., CCC-SLP, bilingual speech language pathologist