A Baby Einstein or Your Money Back

Hi Readers — Hope you saw this piece in The Times:  Disney is offering refunds to any parents who bought its Baby Einstein videos and found, to their shock, that watching shapes, songs, kids and colors on TV did not turn their babies  into instant geniuses the way a name like “Einstein”  might suggest.

This mea culpa  is a huge victory for the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, which got the Einstein folks to drop the word “educational” from their marketing materials a few years ago. This new refund is an even bigger deal, because now the company has to put its money where its Mouse is. (Sorry. It’s not even quite a pun, but who could resist?)  Anyway, Baby Einstein sells $200 million worth of products a year.  About a third of all American tots own one of its DVDs.  Giving their parents refunds  represents a lot of money, and a lot of embarrassment. What made Disney budge? According to the Times:

Last year, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney agreed to refund the full purchase price to all who bought the videos since 2004. “The Walt Disney Company’s entire Baby Einstein marketing regime is based on express and implied claims that their videos are educational and beneficial for early childhood development,” a letter from the lawyers said, calling those claims “false because research shows that television viewing is potentially harmful for very young children.”

I don’t think watching a little TV is going to turn any kid into a Dudley Dursley. But to think that watching TV is the key to kiddie education, rather than, say, letting the kid dig in dirt, or splash in the tub, or bang on a pot — whew. That’s just plain Goofy. — Lenore

86 Responses

  1. Hear! Hear!

    Finally some rational thought!

    Thanks for being a voice of reason, Lenore!

  2. It would be a lot more meaningful if they were actually offering cash, rather than an alternative Baby Einstein product (such as a CD).

  3. Who is going to ask for a refund on the basis their child is not a genius?

  4. Annika – The article said:

    “In contrast, the current offer, allowing parents to exchange their video for a different title, receive a discount coupon, or get $15.99 each for up to four returned DVDs, requires no receipt, and extends until next March 10.”

    Is that not what’s really happening?

  5. An article I read previously (will try to find it) only listed the exchange options. If they really are giving refunds then I take it back. 🙂

  6. I’m loving this. We were given several, and they never impressed me. While I’m not much on this kind of video in general, I liked the Baby Genius San Diego Zoo one better. Much more to see and I thought better music too. Still wasn’t sucker enough to think it would make my babies smarter, though.

  7. What they need to work on now is making toys without every annoying sound in the book. I don’t know why they think a kid can’t play without flashing lights and some stupid voice shouting out every two seconds, “You’re great!” “You’re really smart!” “Super Duper Job!” for pressing a button. What ever happened to letting kids use their imagination to play? Who says you can only use a toy one way? My kids not even a year ago strapped some cars on their feet and were using them as roller skates!

  8. I’m torn on this one. I never honestly believed the videos were so educational, but I don’t think they’re harmful either. “Baby Mozart” in particular was a heavily used video when our son was sick as an infant–there were days when all he could do was watch TV, and Mozart calmed him down very well, and I think he did like watching the toys.

    Our youngest, he can’t care less about them. I guess we could turn a few in.

  9. My kids are older so we missed the whole Baby Einstein boat, but I do watch a 14 month old three times a week for a friend. Today she spent most of the day in the sandbox, and I think she learned a few things, the most important being that sand tastes bad.

    Lenore, I loved the Harry Potter reference!

  10. But it’s not a good thing that the threat of a lawsuit is what got Disney to move on this. It’s fear of lawsuits that is driving a lot of the zero-tolerance, hyper-risk averse rules in many areas of kids’ lives these days.

  11. I saw this story. I thought, “I’ll bet Lenore will have something to say about this”.

    Remember the “Teach your baby to read” craze anyone? This all is just as odious and absurd.

  12. Incidentally, Albert Einstein was somewhat of an ‘Idiot-Savant’. His emotional IQ was reportedly quite under-average.

  13. The implications of this are mindboggling. Try to picture it:

    “Look at my kid! Did you ever see such a dumb excuse for a human being? I gave him this ‘genius’ dvd, and what do I get? Braindead Boy! I want my money back!”

    I must say it makes a welcome relief from all those icky parunts who are convinced that their mediocre offspring are the Future Inventor of the Cure to Cancer, Future Ivy League Graduate and Second Coming all rolled into one.

  14. The national average for TV watching in children is 4-5 hours PER DAY. (http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/media_entertainment/tv-viewing-among-kids-at-an-eight-year-high/) While a “little TV” might not turn anyone into a problem child, it does go against how the brain develops. We aren’t meant to from a 2D environment — it’s 3D all the way, baby! 4 hours/day teaches a child that they are passive inhabitants of their environment, plus a whole host of other problems.

    However they got there, I’m glad Disney is stepping up.

  15. The idea that you could possibly make a genius out of a non-genius by watching tv is bizarre. Is there anyone, ever, who really thought that?

    I’m with Mike, I never found the videos particularly harmful, but neither did I sit my kids in front of the tv for hours. My experience with Baby Van Gogh was that my kids learned their colors earlier than expected. But the most beneficial aspect was that my 18 month old recognized Van Gogh paintings well enough that I could take him to work (in a museum full of Van Goghs) and he impressed the curators.

  16. I never ever liked the Baby Einstein products. In part because I thought telling parents they were making their kids smarter by putting them in front of the TV was a pretty ridiculous claim to be making, but mostly because I just found them incredibly annoying. I made it clear very early on that I was NOT interested in getting any of those as gifts. I also tend not to put batteries in toys to get my kids to make the noises themselves (like their playhouse in the backyard has a doorbell that is supposed to make noise and a phone that makes noise, but the kids don’t know that so they make their own noises).

    I’m no puritan parent by any means – my kids watch TV and eat junk food from time to time – I just can’t stand this generation of toys that does everything for the kid and claims to be making them smarter.

  17. re: Karen, Lawsuits are exactly the correct forum for bringing false advertising claims. The threat of civil action is our protection as consumers from bad faith on the part of producers.

    I’m gonna come down on the side of the Baby Einstein products. Not for baby’s so much, but great tv time fare for toddlers. Both of my girls love them. They get exposed to classical music in a fun way and maybe they learn something they wouldn’t learn from Spongebob.

  18. I actually liked Baby Einstein. I didn’t think they’d turn my son into a genius, but I enjoyed listening to the music. Actually, my son is deaf, so he got nothing out of it when he was a baby anyway, but I really enjoyed the music. Had a calming effect on me. 😉

  19. You know, PBS kids is now and has always been free. If one really needs kid TV time it’s a great resource. I always say that one of the primary sources of life lessons for me is the Arthur show. Not to mention Word Girl, Between the Lions, Cyberchase, all shows my 3 kids and I watched over the years and actually learned real stuff from. I don’t even remember all the early childhood shows now but they were great too.

  20. My kids love PBS! We only have basic cable so that’s really our only option for kid shows, but I’m quite happy with that. Super Why is great for kids learning their letters. And we’re totally hooked on Curious George and Thomas the Tank Engine. 🙂

    My issue with Baby Einstein isn’t whether kids watch TV or not, it’s the claim that it is making them smarter just by watching. It’s one thing to say a show is educational, which means the kid COULD learn from it, and quite another to say by watching puppets and listening to music the child is somehow expanding their brain power. Call it entertainment for babies and it’s fine with me. I still won’t like them, but that’s just me.

  21. This is a real victory for the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. If anyone wants to know more about their work they should definitely lay eyes on their documentary, “CONSUMING KIDS”. It’s a frightening glimpse into the mechanics of the kid marketing machine. The nag factor is just the beginning. And the false promises, such as those made by Baby Einstein, are everywhere.

  22. going out on a limb here, i think this is kind of lame. i agreed that disney should drop the word educational and advertise honestly. i don’t think that anyone gullible enough to be duped into thinking a dvd is going to turn their average joey into joe college deserves a refund when it doesn’t work. if the music and toys are engaging and used in moderation, why shouldn’t disney profit from their purchase? no one forced those parents to buy the dvds and plug their kids in, why should the company be penalized for those parents’ choices? if i buy ice age 3, for example, and think it’s a complete dud, i’m not going to get my money back even though the movie is advertised as a comedy, and i shouldn’t. i chose to buy it, i chose to watch it. that’s a risk consumers take.

  23. We get all our wisdom from Sponge Bob Square Pants. Is that a bad thing?

  24. PBS IS great- but only free if you can actually get a signal. We live in the hills and everything is fuzzy- and that’s with an antenna! We added CLASSIC Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, Fraggle Rock, & The Muppets to our registry because we want our son to enjoy what we liked back in the 70s/80s- good old fashioned encouragement of using that noggin to imagine & figure things out. As for music, we have a large collection and there’s always YouTube & Hulu, so we listen to something new every day- I haven’t tried Mozart yet, but he likes Tchaikovsky, U2, Springsteen, The Crow soundtrack, Rockapella, Glee, and more. Images? Internet again- this morning we were looking at some gorgeous libraries from around the world! (I was drooling as much as he was, but he might be teething.) And one of his grandfathers gave him a book called Backyard Astronomy, and we have lots of trees around for colors & textures- can’t beat nature’s paintbox!

  25. This is a mish mash of issues. On the one hand, thinking your kid will be a genius from watching some videos is foolish. On the other hand, not being able to call a product educational because it doesn’t magically transform kids into geniuses is about as silly as recalling car seats because a child could get sick if he ate the whole thing. If it teaches things kids are likely not to have known before or reinforces things worth learning, it’s educational. Certainly they shouldn’t be claiming that it makes kids into geniuses, but the word “educational” should not have such a ridiculously high standard.

  26. Vince L

  27. I never expected these DVDs to make my babies geniuses, I was just grateful that I had them so I could put one on and know that they would stay put while I had a shower. Amusing is more how I’d describe them, I always found the repeat play option odious though.

  28. TV is just a tool. There is a healthy way to use it, and certainly there is also a very unhealthy way. My 6 yo still loves to watch these Baby Einstein videos (it has a sort of hypnotising effect on her, and it soothes her when she’s had a bad day at school or whatever). On the other hand, her 18 month-old sister has no use for them. In fact, she switches the TV off when her siblings stop playing with her just to stare at it, drooling. She’s better than any built-in parenting control I’ve ever seen!

  29. My favorite Baby Einstein story:

    When #1 son was about 12 months old, we went to a playgroup with about 5 other babies. They were all crawling around, playing happily with the toys on the floor. Then the host mom decided to put in Baby Einstein. Note that the kids were not fussing or otherwise scuffling over toys or anything. So she puts in this video and the babies…stop. They sit and stare at the screen. Except for my son. He looked at the screen for a moment, looked at the other kids, and promptly stole someone else’s toy. The other kid was mesmerized, and didn’t notice. He proceeded to gather most of the toys to himself and have a grand old time with them while the other kids stared. That’s my boy.

  30. I agree with tana. I am all for cracking down on misleading advertising but, really, people thought these products would, ipso facto, lead to genius kids? God, talk about infantilizing the nation…

    People (not you guys but world at large), reminder: Advertising is created by marketeers trying to sell products and is not to be construed as fact or promise.

  31. I’m glad to see this. Several years ago my company was selling Your Baby Can Read videos. There is such a contrast, because with the Baby Einstein videos, there is no connection between the video and audio. In contrast, it’s the other way around for YBCR. My company no longer sells them, but after watching my 2-year-old learn to read using them I’m a believer.

  32. See, I bought the Baby Einstein stuff because I wanted to indoctrinate my children into Classical Music. I decided it would be best to lay it into their subconscious prior to their knowing whether it was cool or not. While I am unsure if classical music makes a baby smarter, an appreciation of classical music is normally held by smarter adults 😉

  33. I have a friend who posted about this on facebook and expressed extreme disappointment. She was planning on buying some so her future kids “could excel and get ahead.”

    So yes, some people bought the concept.

    My 4 month old simply watches Project Runway with us 🙂

  34. If you have more questions about kids and media, check out http://www.askaboutmedia.org where pediatrician Dr. Michael Rich answers questions from parents. He answered one about this topic just yesterday.

  35. Tana – Ice Age 3 sucked, just so you know : )

  36. My son loved the Baby Mozart (I think – whatever one had the dragon puppet popping up and going BLEH in it) when he was very little – back before Disney bought out the videos. A local bath products shop sold the puppets in the videos, and he used to love playing along – usually in the mornings when I let the video distract him while I was in the shower. I was never under any delusion that it was going to make him a genius, I just appreciated that he liked it and the original videos were far less annoying than a lot of the other kids programming on during that timeframe. (The alternative was Barney. I’ll take a dragon puppet saying BLEH over a phoney-baloney dinosaur any day)

  37. To be frank, all other issues aside, this issue makes me wonder – where is personal responsibility? No one forced these parents to buy the DVDs – while I’m all for getting “educational” taken off the marketing, I don’t think Disney had any responsibility to refund these people’s money. I think parents asking Disney to refund their money on infant entertainment because all of a sudden “research shows” that TV is bad for children (hasn’t it always? This is hardly new news.) is basically the parents asking Disney to take the same kind of helicoptery care of them that they’re taking of their children. How can we claim to be raising children capable of critical and independent thought when we run to our lawyers to sue anyone whose marketing plan we fall for? Doesn’t the very fact that this lawsuit was brought in the first place constitute the parents’ admission that they bought the DVDs because of what the marketing said without giving it any thoughtful consideration of their own? Perhaps there should be a Coalition for Commercial-Free Adulthood, if parents can’t take responsibility for filtering the messages of advertisements themselves.

  38. Excatly. I ask myself that everyday. When are people going to start takeing responsibility for their own actions. How can we expect our kids too if we don’t.

  39. Good. I agree that Disney was being misleading.

    Which is why I’m bringing suit against Einstein’s Bagels for not delivering on their implied promise of instant genius via carb-loading.

  40. Ah, Fraggle Rock. I tried so hard to get my children interested in that show. No go. They could care less. It was one of my favorite shows as a child.

    I also did not put batteries in toys that made sounds. When my kids got old enough that they figured it out I started threatening family and friends that the noisy toys would be kept at their house. That put an end to that!

  41. As I understood it, Disney was forced to retire the word “educational” because the target audience were babies. Now, the defendants had all sorts of experts say that babies acquire all their knowledge by actively interacting with their environment. Actually, they need to use all their senses to get a general idea of what the object they’re holding is like. That’s why they have to take everything in their mouths, too.
    So making a baby passively stare at a twinkling toy is as far as you can go from educating him. He needs to watch it, touch it, smell it, lick it, bite it, hit the floor with it, pull it as far as it can go, try fitting it in a shoe box, throw it against someone’s shin… and listen to Mozart as he does, why not?

  42. Did I say defendant?? Sorry, I meant plaintiff.

  43. Ah, more nonsense from our ever litigious society. Give me money because I actually though a DVD would turn my child into a genius, and I need lawyers to protect me from my own stupidity, or at least enable me to profit from it.

    I’m curious–are there REALLY any parents who bought these DVDs thinking they would ACTUALLY turn their kids into geniuses? Didn’t we all buy them because they are fantastic baby crack and about the only thing that will guarantee us 30 minutes of uninterrupted peace from our toddlers? And isn’t a daily 30 minutes of uninterrupted peace well worth the one-time cost of $15.99? And wasn’t it an unspoken (wink wink) understanding between parents and manufacturers that the “educational” label would serve as a salve for our consciences for allowing our kids to watch DVDs just so we could get a little time to drink a cup of coffee and surf the internet? Now that’s all been ruined!

    Oh, well. I switched to Looney Tunes a year ago anyway. I consider it an education in cultural literacy, so my coffee break is still fully justified.

  44. “See, I bought the Baby Einstein stuff because I wanted to indoctrinate my children into Classical Music.”

    In that case, just playing real classical music on CD works a bit better than the techno version.

  45. Actually, I know a lot of moms who were totally convinced that these videos were really GOOD for their kids and that they weren’t just getting themselves a little down time, but growing their kids minds. I don’t have a problem with marketing videos for babies, even though little to no screen time is better for them. The reality of life is that most of us have parked our kids in front of the TV at some time or another either to get stuff done or just to rest for a little while. As far as I can tell, my kids’ brains haven’t melted out their ears just from watching TV.

    However, approaching the birth of my third kid, I will sometimes flip through the baby magazines at my OB/GYN’s office and I am appalled by the products that are being pushed on new moms, not just because it may make life easier or because the kid will enjoy it, but because we NEED to have it in order to a)keep the child alive or b)ensure it will evolve beyond a drooling lump at some point in its life. We got a toy once (as a gift) when my first was a baby that was a ball with some soft spikes coming off of it. Fun for chewing on, yes, but the packaging said it would stimulate my baby’s brain and make him smarter. A ball. With soft spikes on it. Much like a dog toy.

    It’s easy to look back when the kids are older and realize how dumb a lot of the products pushed on new moms are, but I remember almost being reduced to tears when trying to put together my baby registry for my oldest because every product insisted it was the ONLY one that any thinking mom would use, and if I didn’t have it, my son would be lacking in some essential way. (That is if he survived my terrible parenting at all)

    Honestly, I don’t really care about the giving money back part – I’m just glad that they will stop marketing it as a product to make your kids smarter. Call it what it is – baby crack. 🙂

  46. But that’s marketing. Do you also buy every alarm system you see advertised because it’s the only thing that will prevent your children from being abducted and dismembered while you sleep in your own house or every shampoo you see because it’s the only thing that will give you an orgasm in the shower? If we sued every company that implied we’d receive some exceptional unrealistic benefit from their products…well. There would be a lot more lawsuits than there already are.

  47. Initially there would be a lot more lawsuits. Then we might start getting reliable information about products and companies that competed on features and functionality instead of untrue claims. Of course we might not – but there’s no benefit to society in letting firms get away with untrue claims.

  48. Well, what claims did Baby Einstein actually make that were demonstably untrue? Did they say the videos would raise your kids IQ by 10 points within one year? I mean, what did they say, other than that the DVD’s were “educational”? How can you prove or disprove that the DVDs are “educational”? Isn’t what is “educational” a bit subjective, anyway? Why else do they cycle kids through school like guinea pigs? It’s a little hard to prove or disprove such a vague claim in connection with a single product. I mean, if playing in a sandbox is “educational,” if playing with a shape puzzle is “educational,” then why isn’t watching floating shapes on TV “educational”? I guess I just can’t get all worked up about Baby Einstein promoting its product as educational. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Believe it or don’t believe it. Buy it or don’t buy it. Buy it for its supposed educational value or some different reason or just don’t buy it at all. But mostly what we seem to be “educating” our children to do is to put their critical thinking faculties on hold while they scream “I’m a victim!” at the top of their lungs.

  49. @Olivia- LOL That was me some 5 years ago, too!
    Now imagine all these poor new mums, trying to keep up with their infants with no TV to help them catch their breath… Maybe now they will realize that keeping watch 24/7 on their kids is not only a questionable way of parenting, but also physically impossible.
    Mind you, I did play these DVDs so that I could take a shower and hopefully wash my hair in the bargain. Obviously, I was aware that it was not the optimal entertainment for my kids, but the alternative was enduring their fights, cries and injuries when I was hoping for some peace and quiet.
    BTW, I wonder if a campaign that advertised guaranteed 30 mins. of petrified, quiet babies would have sold that badly. Certainly not in my case…

  50. Well, pentamom and sky, given that studies showed that children who watched Baby Einstein actually had *decreased* verbal skills and *decreased* general intelligence than children who didn’t… yes, I think they shouldn’t be able to call their product “educational”.

    I mean, your average x-man comic* is helping kids learn more than that, and all *they* claim is to have Wolverine inside the magazine (even if, in fact, they don’t.)

    *Not to denigrate comics here.

  51. I have to admit that I bought these videos15 years ago with my 1st child. I was a new parent and willing to give my baby the best of everything. He actually liked the videos and they kept his interest. I do as a parent, however, see that they are not an educational tool.

  52. Baby Enstien is crap, but anyone who bought those thinking their kids would turn into a genius is a dumbass.

    Now I loves me some PBS and sesame street and other “educational” kids shows, but as a means for me to take a poop in the middle of the day without walking back out into world war 3, not for making my kid into some brain.

    Strangely, my 3 year old is now really into matching, shapes, colors, and numbers after I let him watch sesame street and super why every day, so maybe my baby trap is actually DOING something. How exciting for me 😀 win win! Bathroom in peace AND my kid is finely grasping the concept of numbers. yayyy.

  53. Sky – I believe (and anyone feel free to correct me if I’m way off base) that they did not just claim to be generically educational. They originally actually claimed that watching these videos would expand vocabulary and enhance brain power or something like that. But that may have been before Disney even bought them out. I know they did claim to really be beneficial for the kids as far as language development. Which, given the evidence, is exactly the OPPOSITE effect of watching of lot of these (or any) videos.

  54. Like others here, I used Baby Einstein as a way to have a couple of minutes to myself. TV is one heck of a babysitter! I don’t know what it is about those videos but even now my almost 10 year old will go in a trance if it’s on. However, we don’t have TV at all other than videos. Since the magic switcheroo happened, my rabbit ears don’t work. So her trance could be about the TV in general. (I miss TVO. They had documentaries on every night at 7:00 and me and my oldest would watch them. It was crazy randomness as to what you would get. From the English monarch to the construction of buildings in NYC to rats to the elevator to laughter to….)

  55. Uly, in that case, some schools shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves educational. I really don’t think a claim as benign as “educational” should legally need demonstration. Some advertising of foods claims that it tastes good when it doesn’t, as well. People need to grasp that advertising claims about things that can’t cause serious harm if they’re untrue (given normal usage, not the kind of overexposure necessary to create a valid study) need to be seen for what they are, and not invest hope and emotion into them. Then all of this wouldn’t matter.

  56. Everything in moderation, right? A little TV won’t kill ’em. Most parents have used their set as a babysitter at one time or another even if they won’t admit it. I did and I don’t feel the least bit guilty. I did the best I could with what I had.

  57. Not on topic, but a friend sent me this article

    And it smells like something you’d like to expose. It sucks when mom’s are ashamed of their infants.

  58. I guess I don’t understand why people think that it is unacceptable for their child to be average. I am pretty sure my kids are of average intellect but that doesn’t mean that I am any less proud of them.

  59. Caveat emptor….Let the buyer beware. I learned that from The Brady Bunch when I was six.

    Go figure.

  60. Come on world! Can’t an enterprising mom invent a lovely product that is enjoyed by millions of exhausted mothers without being held “liable” in the end because of what she and Disney decided to name it?

    I am repeatedly irritated by the work of Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood. You know how to raise “commercial free” kids? Turn off the tv and teach them how to be conscientious consumers. Its called parenting. I wish Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood would stop trying to control the uncontrollable and advocate for food-insecure families or something less misdirected.

  61. When a friend shared the news that Disney was offering a refund for Baby Einstein products, I blurted out, “What? People are suing Disney for their own lack of critical thinking skills?!!!” Apparently, I need to sue the university I attended, along with my high school, elementary school and my parents for not teaching me to think for myself! I, like everyone else, do not appreciate false advertising but I am so tired of the blame game. I am responsible for the choices I make – not Disney!

  62. This blame-the-consumer strategy is elitist and ultimately self-destructive. The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood is making very worthwhile points, even if you don’t agree with one of its specific strategies (they have an anti-Scholastic books one which also seems somewhat off the mark to me, and yet I also wonder about the introduction of non-book materials as reading enticements, the debasement of book as object, and the encroachment of cross-medium characters). The issue is that corporations are in the practice of preying on children’s minds and enlist parents to help them do so. It’s all about creating associations of warm fuzzies with different brands, associations those children will carry with them into adulthood in the form of fierce, and profitable, loyalties. CCFC does an admirable job of pointing out the usually ignored and invisible outrages of those that make a living selling stuff to kids. It’s also hardly unreasonable to insist that advertising be truthful. Though of course most of the time one can pretty much assume it’s all snake oil.

    Definitely check out the movie “Consuming Kids.” To be honest, I associate free-rangers with a more critical media attitude in general and strangely enough it’s the helicopter parents who often unleash media to run rampant through their kids’ brains as an alternative to the perceived dangers of the real world.

  63. Baby Einstein is just the tip of the iceberg of unnecessary products that you might skip of buying. I have 2 kids, 5 and 7. Here is a list of products that I never bothered to buy – like mineral baby oil – my kitchen olive oil works much better. I never bought any special baby shampoos soaps or lotions – my regular organic brand works just fine. I never bought any butt pastes or baby powder or baby cream. We also never had a diaper rash, from all these things clogging pores on baby skin. I never bought any specialized toothpastes – we started with a regular one. And it saves ton’s of space, and you won’t need baskets of stuff around your house.
    By the way, when I shared my experiences with other mothers, they just shook their heads in disbelief, how can you raise 2 kids without baby powder? 🙂

  64. Here at the ripe old age of 49, I can still remember bits and pieces of my mom teaching me colors and shapes. She also played the piano. Go figure. Of course, I’m no genius either :o)

  65. A bit of a tenuous link but speaking of Free Range Kids and TV did anyone see the newest episode of Desperate Housewives?

    They touched on the topic a bit with one of the characters being branded a bad mother because she didn’t watch her 7-year-old daughter and her friend for every single second of a playdate (and the kids slid down the stairs in a suitcase while she wasn’t watching)!

    I thought it was nice to see the issue discussed, at least a little, on a mainstream TV show with the outcome being sort of pro-free range.

  66. some of my ex’s friends gave us a few of these when my 9 year old was born – I couldn’t – and still can’t – believe people actually bought into this stuff!

  67. I only wish I had let my kids watch the Baby Einstein Videos. Geniuses? Who needs geniuses…they coulda grown up to be LAWYERS!

  68. @a-note
    I’m another mom (my kids are 24, 19 and 17) who didn’t buy lots and lots of stuff, including brand new clothes for people who were going to fit into them for about 3 and a half minutes.
    Now I’m raising a grandson. He’s 3 and a half. He gets the baby toothpaste… this after he sucked a tube of toothpaste dry because he liked how it tasted. So, it’s the kind that’s made to get swallowed by little doofy cuties.

    and PBS all the way, baby. Streaming Netflix rocks. No ads for effing Chuckie Cheese. That annoys me more than almost anything else… ads for the most aggravating place I can think of right between Sid the Science Kid and Super Why. Aaaaarrrrrgh!!!!

  69. looks like they’ll be giving out alot of refunds- baby+video= genius- how ridiculous!

  70. This is hugh! Parents were tricked out of guilt to buy this product. When will we feel confident to just let them play and learn? We get our kids in the rat race way to early. Play is good for all of us, parents and children alike.

  71. Sam, providing information so that parents can make wise choices based on the content of stuff is all to the good. Forbidding companies from making flat out unsubstantiated and false claims about specific benefits from products (i.e. specific increases in verbal skills or IQ points) is just common sense. But restricting non-specific words like “educational” is going too far. People can easily learn that “educational” doesn’t guarantee results, just like people with good taste are fully aware that “Tastes Great” is a bogus claim when it comes to ANY kind of light beer. 😉

  72. Have to confess that, based on what I heard from other moms, that these were THE thing to get for my child. Well guess what — I tried playing them for my then-6 month old baby, who wanted NOTHING to do with Baby Einstein!
    The few videos I did purchase have since been sent to a consignment shop.

    Guess my child is a bright kid after all — and no thanks to Baby Einstein or any other gimmicky product guaranteed to “stimulate” a child’s brain. I attest to reading, playing, and exploring the world around us as being the main factors in that regard.

    And don’t even get me started on the “Your Baby Can Read” crap that’s being peddled via infomercials — while I believe there are some early readers out there, it strikes me as being like the flash cards that some hyper-parents like to haul out for their wee ones in hopes of gearing them for an Ivy League school down the road. My child, who is almost 6 and in kindergarten, is a wonderful reader, thanks to good old fashioned reading aloud, visits to the library, and living in a home with book-happy parents!

  73. I think the lawsuits are going a bit overboard. Parents should spend time with their children, but if you truly need some time where your kid is quiet and watching something appropriate for his age, then these videos are worth the money. I get migraines and am unable to take care of my son when I get them. If I am unable to find a babysitter, then these work for me. Not to mention, my son now appreciates classical music, can name diferent composers and even sings the songs. I see no harm in that!

  74. APRIL:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly!!!


  75. I dislike Baby Einstein and Baby Leapfrog and all those other “educational” infant/toddler toys. I think they’re a waste of time and money that could be better spent on blocks, cuddly toys, and board books.

    However, I also firmly believe in not protecting people from their own mistakes. We have turned into a society that believes in litigating every minor problem. Couldn’t figure out that eating nothing but McDonalds all day makes you overweight? No big deal, you can just sue. Don’t recognise advertising gimmicks when you see them? Sue the manufacturer, obviously they were at fault.

    Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is one of the biggest offenders here. I don’t agree with marketing to children, but I still believe parents have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to teaching their children about advertising. Talk to your kids about commercials, ask if they think the Trix rabbit is really going to try to steal their cereal. Then let them find out for themselves that most toys, candies, etc. aren’t nearly as cool as they seem on TV. When they get older they’ll be much less likely to accept that the latest “educational toy” will turn their own kids into geniuses.

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  78. I’m glad to read so many parents find that the BE music has taught their children to appreciate classical music. Unfortunately I saw what Disney did to my favorite composition (The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky) and combined with the way they corrupt the fairy tales, I just can’t trust them most of the time. While I loved the Nutcracker excerpts in Fantasia (original), they destroyed it with Minnie’s Holiday Party (I think that was the name)- they gave it lyrics, including Roger Rabbit singing something to the effect of “Welcome to the Land of Candy” to the “Dance of the Mirlitons”. It made “Barbie in the Nutcracker” look good! It all depends on the method of which it is utilized.

  79. I never understood why I needed a product to play classical music at my kids. It’s called a CD player, and the Mozart, bluegrass, classic rock, and jazz that I already own. Done.

  80. I have a 16 month old so am quite acquainted with the Baby Einstein line. Anyone who thought that Baby Einstein was going to make their child a genius will probably not be capable of figuring out how to get that $15.95 back. And this is just another example of our sue happy culture gone wild. I’m sure the lawyers involved in this think THEY are geniuses, with all the money they’re getting.

  81. Thank you for this valuable info.

  82. Apparently, my kids pick up a lot of things (good and bad) from tv. That’s the most convenient source of “educational” materials nowadays.

  83. I have read first two paragraphs, i have no time right now to read the rest, but i have bookmarked your blog for further reading.

  84. Interesting post. I have stumbled this for my friends. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

  85. einstin have a very large contribution to the world, especially in the field of physics. although he is a very clever man, but he’s still human, and certainly has a mistake.

  86. But it’s not a good thing that the threat of a lawsuit is what got Disney to move on this. It’s fear of lawsuits that is driving a lot of the zero-tolerance, hyper-risk averse rules in many areas of kids’ lives these days.

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