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You didn’t take that ‘Einstein’ stuff seriously, did you?

Submitted by on Sunday, 25 October 2009 4 Comments

The newest marketing pitch from Disney on its “Baby Einstein” line, since the old one has gone down in legal flames: The DVDs are about “fostering parent-child interaction.”

Of course they always have been, a Disney vice president told The New York Times in an article about the company’s embarrassing mea culpa that involves refunding money to people who bought the DVDs under the mistaken notion that they would release their babies’ inner geniuses.

The new pitch quite possibly is more insulting than the old one was disingenuous. Parents need videos to interact with their children? I thought “this little piggy went to market” still works just fine.

I’m sad, though, that I’m missing out on the refund. I ditched our only Baby Einstein video when we moved. It had been a “condolences on the arrival of That Baby Who Ruined You Life” gift when Big Guy was 2, and he never liked it much anyway.

HBO’s “Classical Baby” he loved, and he watched it daily, not because I was trying to raise an artistic prodigy but because an episode was long enough for me to feed, burp,change and settle That Baby Who Ruined His Life. It usually was enough to lull Big Guy to sleep, too, depending on the episode.

Yes, that’s right. I used TV to baby-sit my toddler.  Not for hours at a time, and not because I thought it was good for him. Just long enough to save my sanity and my limbs – before we discovered “Classical Baby,” Big Guy occasionally would try to gnaw on my arm as I fed his brother.

It was some of the first TV he’d ever watched in my presence, much to the dismay of the set that fell for the Baby Einstein BS and was convinced I was depriving him. One even went so far as to tell me all the wonderful language skills her child was learning from TV – Spanish from Dora and Hawaiian from Lilo and Stitch. Kai-Lan wasn’t around back then, which explains the lack of fluency in Chinese.

You could tell the days of Disney’s audacious spin were numbered back back in the spring, when “it doesn’t hurt” was the best its apologists could come up with in the face of a study that showed “educational” DVDs do nothing to help.

And now Disney itself is admitting that the DVDs don’t help. I’m feeling a little vindicated here.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Parenting Pink said:

    Refund on Baby Einstein videos???Wait, I think I still have some I can dig out of our DVD box!

    I too fell for the “Baby Einstein” series when it came out after Pinkerbell was born (now a sassy 6 year old) and I was convinced by the media and all of my baby mama friends that I simply “had” to have these things or else my child would be deprived of brainpower and score low on her SATs. You do those kind of crazy things for the first child…but by my second and third children I learned quickly that DVD’s were not the way to go when it came to “interacting” with my children. I did like the classical music of the Baby Einstein DVDs but quickly found that throwing in a CD of Bach and dancing with my children was a far better way to “interact” with them :-)

    I will admit that from time to time I do pop in the good ‘ol DVD to get some “me time” – but that’s alright with me. It doesn’t make us “bad moms” if we occasionally need to use the TV to stay sane…at least that’s my take on it! Great post Debra!

  • Lisa said:

    Now, my daughter loved Baby Einstein but my son not so much.

    I do have to disagree with you regarding Dora and Diego though. My son’s speech therapist actually recommended that we let my son watch those two shows to help his speech.

  • Debra said:

    It’s not that I think they don’t get anything out of those shows, Lisa. It’s just that I don’t think they’re something to pin a kid’s whole pre-school experience on, as folks told me I should do. “Just let them watch TV. They’ll be fine.” Plus those shows are for kids old enough that pediatricians think it’s OK if they watch TV in moderation.

  • Genevieve said:

    I loved the “Baby Einstein” series. It was like baby crack for Craig. … and me. Seriously, once on we’d all find ourselves watching it and zoning out. I wonder if anyone has reported being hypnotized by those … Course, I never thought it was going to make my baby brainy.