Should Santa bring baby an educational DVD?

Ho kenrsnbabz
ho hokum.

Those are my seasons greetings to Baby Einstein and the rest of the infant educational complex. If you’re wondering what to buy baby that’ll guarantee ’em a good time, a bright future and possible admission to a college that Obama went to, so-called “educational” videos are not the way to go. Here’s what Harvard’s Susan Linn has to say:

 “Baby educational media is brilliantly marketed and a complete and utter scam.”

Linn is a psychologist and founder of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. It was her organization that got Baby Einstein to drop the word “educational” from its web site because, guess what? There is no evidence that its tapes are educational. In fact, Linn argues that DVDs for babies actually do the opposite of stimulating them.

“What we know about babies is that they learn through active exploration of the world, through all their senses. They don’t learn by sitting and watching a video.” They learn by playing — with you, with their toes, maybe with the case the DVD comes in. Despite Baby Einstein’s best efforts to make you think your kid is going to slump at the bottom of the bell curve without a $14.99 boost from the wonderful world of kiddie media, it’s just not so.

How much screen time does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend for children under the age of two? Ze-ro. Nada. None. It would rather kids interact with the world.

Of course, there is one way in which baby videos are undeniably instructive. They teach children to sit there drooling and staring at the tube. Now if only they could teach them to grab a beer and hog the remote, I guess their work would be done. — Lenore

 P.S. For that “Free Range Kids” book I’m writing: Does anyone have a story about a silly safety device they bought, or any awful educational toy they thought would enhance their children’s lives…that didn’t? Thanks! L.


55 Responses to Should Santa bring baby an educational DVD?

  1. BMS December 17, 2008 at 8:10 am #

    Lenore, once again, I love you.

    I remember when my kids were babies, I had never really heard of the Baby Whatever videos. One of my friends raved and raved about them. I happened to see one at this friend’s house once and thought “This? That’s it? This is the most boring useless drivel I have ever seen. What a freaking scam!” So I never ever purchased one. Instead, I let my kids play with toys, pull pots and pans out of the cabinet, bounce in their exersaucer, and other such things.

    My favorite Baby Einstein video story was at a playgroup once. The playgroup met at another mom’s house. She was another Baby video junkie. She put on a video, and the babies, who were about 9-11 months old, stopped playing with their toys and crawling around and just sat and stared. Except for my son. He first tried to crawl behind the TV to see what was there. Then he went over to one of the mesmerized kids, looked at the kid, looked at the TV, and took the other kid’s toy. That’s my boy!

  2. Andrew Eisenberg December 17, 2008 at 9:04 am #

    On the one hand I agree with you. These videos aren’t “educational” in any real sense. And any regular viewing by an infant or toddler is more harmful than helpful. We’ve been given a few of these videos from friends after their children have grown too old for them.

    I’ve been extremely grateful for them. Once, our little guy had a horrible flu and the only thing that would get him to stop crying was watching a video. He was miserable, but these videos were enough of a distraction that he forgot about it for a little while.

    Other than that, they’ve been fairly useless. I think we’ve put them in for a few minutes every week and he quickly loses interest.

  3. Taking a Chance on Baby December 17, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    I didn’t buy this product, but….

    I was in motherhood maternity looking for a fetal heart monitor. The woman got confused and took me over to a product that you strap onto womb that claimed to…wait for it…TEACH MY CHILD while still IN THE WOMB using the “sound of heartbeats to stimulate” blah blah blah.

    I just looked at her incredulously and asked if anyone had ever bought it. She told me that they sold at least one a week, which means at least 52 women a year buy into this nonsense, at that store alone.

    And to think, it could’ve been mine for the low low cost of more than $50.

  4. Carol December 17, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    I made the error of buying the Baby Mozart cds because I thought they’d contain like, actual symphonys or something. It was dumbed down electronic shit. Just awful. And seeing as we had outlawed “children’s music” in our home, and the kids were happy to listen to Chanticleer and Beethoven conducted by Bernstein…

    I just can’t figure out why bother? Is it for parents that can’t stand classical music but think junior should know the melodies?

  5. Sean December 17, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    While I have no kids of my own, I have turned into the regular babysitter for my friends, so I’ve seen my share of truly insane things, including the baby einstein videos.

    My friend daniel bought all these doorknobs covers, toilet seat locks, the whole babyproofing running (He actually paid somebody to come in for this, btw, and the guy was on a divine mission to terrify any new, or soon to be parent) for his son, Aeric. Aeric at the time was about 1 month old, couldn’t really crawl yet, and couldn’t have reached the door if he’d been able to stand.

    What it did do for us was frustrate all attempts to get anything in the house, including cutting us off some months later from the first aid kit, after Aeric had mastered crawling fast crawling, but not depth perception, and cut his head on the coffee table.

  6. Lara Starr December 17, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    Re: Silly Safety
    When my son Max was I guess around a year old. I bought this inflatable sheath for the bathtub spout. I thought it would protect the kid’s little noggin. I blew it up, put it on the faucet and the child FREAKED OUT! I don’t think he’s ever before or since reacted so strongly to anything. He just pointed at it and said, “No! No! No!” over and over again. I took it off and what do you know, countless baths later – the boy’s just fine.

    Re: Videos
    Someone had given me one of those Baby Einsteins. I figured it would buy me 15 minutes of peace, if not a one-way ticked to Harvard. I put it in and the kid was dutifully staring at it slack-jawed for a few minutes. Then the puppet came on screen. Some sort of dragon puppet opened it’s mouth and a long forked tongue rolled out.The boy shrieked and burst into tears. So much fore pre-pre-K video education.

  7. Marie December 17, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    I haven’t run into and devices yet, but I saw in a parents magazine two things that just killed me. A helmet for learning to walk (extreme sports okay, but walking?!?!?!) and kneepads for learning to crawl. My husband and are were incredulous. I wonder if anyone buys those.

  8. Guénolee December 17, 2008 at 8:31 pm #

    When my now 19-year-old was young we never turned on the TV just to entertain. However, somehow one day he turned it on and discovered Mr. Rogers. He was about 2. He fell in love, learned when Mr. Rogers was on, learned how to operate the VCR and recorded every episode himself. Then, about 6 months later, when he’d seen all episodes, he got bored and turned the TV off.

  9. Guénolee December 17, 2008 at 8:31 pm #

    When my now 19-year-old was young we never turned on the TV just to entertain. However, somehow one day he turned it on and discovered Mr. Rogers. He was about 2. He fell in love, learned when Mr. Rogers was on, learned how to operate the VCR and recorded every episode himself. Then, about 6 months later, when he’d seen all episodes, he got bored and turned the TV off.

  10. sara's art house December 17, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    This is not a safety device- but some ADVICE from a baby magazine. I remember it saying that you should not leave the baby in the house and run out to get the mail- you never know when a fire may start. Crazy. Living in fear.

  11. jessica December 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

    It is a long proven fact that TV is bad for developing brains and can actually cause brain damage.

  12. Anita December 17, 2008 at 11:05 pm #

    Hey Lenore! I was given a whole collection from a very good friend (who did not have kids yet) and I have to say, I didn’t think anything of it…I don’t know if we can truly appreciate your point until we have actually had the kid. A lot of my parenting advice to friends (we seemed to have kids before all of them did) is retrospect, if I could do it differently, etc… and yes, I think kids watch too much TV!!!!! It’s bad enough when they are school aged, but babies? Let’s just turn those TVs off!!!

    (Of course, my husband would disagree…
    “blahblahblah I watched TV all the time growing up, and I am a blahblahblah, I turned out just fine”

    Well, TV when we were growing up consited of Bugs Bunny, Flinstones, Sesame Street, Batman and Robin and the Monkees…and I have to say I don’t even let our kids watch most TV today. It is full of trash I don’t need my girls exposed to at this age.

    And that is all I have to say about that!
    You rule, girlfriend! – Anita

  13. BMS December 17, 2008 at 11:25 pm #

    When I mention that we don’t own a TV, one of the first things everyone asks us is “How do you EVER cook dinner?!?”

    Lately, I want to turn this around: “What in the name of all that is holy are your kids doing that you can’t make dinner without tranquilizer darting them (or Baby Mozarting them)?” I mean, are kids juggling flaming torches in the living room? What could they be doing? Sure, ours needed to be contained in playpens, baby backpacks, and exersaucers when they were babies, but since I didn’t plug them into the TV from day zero, they learned pretty quickly to entertain themselves. It’s never been a problem.

  14. Sandra December 18, 2008 at 12:46 am #

    I’m telling you – we could all be millionaires. I’ll submit a study using my four children – I’ll dress my older children in purple clothing. I will give them a simple math problem like 2+2. My 15 and 11 year olds will answer it correctly, while my 3 and 1 year olds will not. Therefore, children that wear purple clothing have higher IQs that those that don’t.

    Then ya’ll manufacture purple clothes. We’ll be rollin’ in the dough in nanoseconds.

  15. Gann December 18, 2008 at 1:43 am #

    When my daughter was born, we got one of those mirrors you use to see your baby even though the car seat is facing backwards. This was advertised as a safety precaution, of course. After about a month the strap holding the mirror to the seat snapped and the mirror fell into the car seat. No injuries, but safe? Not so much.

  16. MrsNehemiah December 18, 2008 at 1:56 am #

    Umm. we cook on the stove, the tv-not so much!
    when mine were little we had an amazing invention, a Gate! that kept them out of the kitchen while I was cooking.
    the gate in the hallway was the one that nearly killed me though. when I ran into it at full tilt at o’dark thirty. I did a full flip and landed on my back. No matter how late you are for work, don’t run in the house!

    the silliest thing I ever saw was a little mesh bag attatched to a pacifier handle, you were supposed to put baby’s food in there, that way he couldn’t bite off enough to choke on, it looked to me like he could probably have gotten his little pearly whites stuck in the mesh though.

    which reminds me, a friend of mine said that now with all trampolines having a net around them the most common injuries involving trampolines, happen when some kid gets his/her teeth stuck in the netting and either rips them out of his head, or breaks his jaw.

    Lord, preserve us from safety nets!
    Mrs N

  17. Ralphinjersey December 18, 2008 at 2:05 am #

    Our bundle of joy just turned one and loves the Baby Einstein BOOK, “Mimi’s Toes.”

    No batteries, no beeps, no blinks. …

    Just a monkey and her toes.

    (Sorry to all for spoiling the ending.)

  18. Alanna December 18, 2008 at 4:28 am #

    Baby safety devices!
    Before I went to China to pick up my twenty month old, I bought every baby safety devide known to mankind and womankind. I bought a toilet lock! I took it off once I realized that that dumb thing was working agains her desire to toilet train herself on a real toilet (She refused to use a potty until after she learned to use the toilet.)

  19. Angeline December 18, 2008 at 4:35 am #

    Baby Einstein is what it is, an electronic babysitter. I used it, I loved it, it brought me peace and joy, but I was under no illusion that it was “educational”. They should market infant DVDs as Mother’s Little Helper for the new millenium.

  20. Lisa December 18, 2008 at 6:33 pm #

    My favorite child safety story. When my daughter was almost 10 months she was walking down the stairs and fell at her grandmothers house. She had a swelling of the head area so we took to the ER just to be cautious. She was fine, but the doctor was so critical and condescending.. I have worked for child services for the last 20+ years and guess what.. kids will fall and they will get hurt. It is a fact of life… My favorite was my daughter stayed after school recently. When the program was over, she walked home (all of 2 blocks) . The school called me frantic because they didn’t see a parent pick her up. I explained she was capable of walking 2 blocks unsupervised at 4pm. There was dead silence on the phone. I joked with my boss that I am waiting for a referral to come in for child neglect… We have to let kids grow up and not be afraid of the world. They are more in danger with a relative than a stranger

  21. Sandra December 18, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    Lisa, kids are no longer allowed to fall and get hurt. Thus there is no running on the playground, no dodge ball, and rubber mats under the swingsets. A bruise clearly indicates maltreatment, don’t you know anything? *rolls eyes as she watches her child ride his bike sans helmet and lives*

  22. Sandra December 19, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    I had never seen Baby Einstine videos when my daughter was born, but hearing all the hype and wanting to be the “perfect” mom, I picked one up at Wal-Mart. What a waste of cash…my munchkin and zero interest in this musical video of toys doing what toys do… She lost interest after about 1 minute and proceeded to energetically rip pages out of a magazine and wave them around and generally act like a toddler. I was stunned at how stupid this video was and vowed never again would I blindly follow the hype. The video resurfaced about a year ago in our wreck room (she’s six now and yes, the room is wrecked) and she was curious about it, so we put it on. She liked the classical music because it reminded her of ballet, but she still thought the whole concept was stupid…That’s my kid! She tuned it out and started making some art with paints and paper…much more interesting.

  23. Peter December 19, 2008 at 5:17 am #

    I’ll teach my daughter to get me a beer, that’s for sure, but no way am I relinquishing control of the remote!

  24. Bob Davis December 19, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    When my daughters were growing up (in the 60’s and 70’s) we didn’t have a TV in the house until they were about 7 & 8 years old. They had graduated from college before VCR’s could be afforded by “normal people”. Now i see minivans with TV’s running. Attention parents–how about letting your kids get acquainted with the real world? Since it’s not relevant to me, I haven’t read it, but the title intrigues me: “The Plug-in Drug”.

  25. dvd December 19, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    Lisa, kids are no longer allowed to fall and get hurt.

  26. relaxedrevolutionary December 19, 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    My favorite catch-all claim to ‘educational toy’ status:

    “Teaches cause-and-effect!!!”

    I’m hard pressed to think of a toy that can’t qualify under that criterion (other than, perhaps, these baby videos), and just as hard pressed to figure out why anyone would think they’d need a dedicated toy to teach such a thing.

  27. Rob C December 19, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    “…you should not leave the baby in the house and run out to get the mail- you never know when a fire may start.”

    And don’t ever, EVER fall asleep!

    Not that you’ll be able to, if you listen to all the fear-mongering bullcrap that’s being shoved down our throats these days.

  28. Alana M December 20, 2008 at 3:05 am #

    Okay I thought of one (embarrassed). I bought this for my first child (isn’t it always for the first?)

    I paid $4 for a rubber duckie that would change color if the bath water was too hot. Of course I could have used my FINGER!

    But it was still a cute rubber duckie at least.

  29. shrdlu December 20, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    TV isn’t going to destroy your children’s brains any more than all the other things we’re taught to be afraid of. People, they’re just videos. Kids will learn no matter what you do. They don’t need stimulation, they don’t need drilling, they don’t need carefully orchestrated exposure to anything — just live your lives and let them come along. We had the Baby Einstein videos, the kids enjoyed them for about a year, we didn’t expect it to make them geniuses, and guess what? their brains didn’t rot either. Baby Einstein is no better or worse than Wile E. Coyote or Mr. Rogers; it just costs more if you buy the DVDs at full price.

  30. Andrea C. December 20, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    When my daughter was little, I purchased a rubber thing that you hooked over your door hinge so that the door wouldn’t close the whole way, ensuring that little fingers would not be pinched in the door.
    My daughter never attempted to put her fingers in the narrow space between the door and the door jam, so I eventually removed the dumb thing, since it also prevented me from closing the door when necessary. My daughter did, however, stand in front of the TV hutch, open the doors on the bottom and proceed to close a door on her tiny little finger as I watched in horror. She received a nasty little blood blister which went away in a few days … and she never tried to open or close a cupboard door again!

  31. Layne December 21, 2008 at 12:27 am #

    Yeah, I really never understood the reasoning behind videos for 3-month olds, either.

  32. Heatherj December 21, 2008 at 7:35 am #

    Ah, Baby Einstein…or as it is affectionately known in my house Baby Crack. Both my girls loved them! My 2 1/2 year-old still likes to watch them. I see no problem with this as I highly doubt that they will either A. Make her a genius or B. Rot her cute little brain. (If either happens, I’ll let you know…) I have made myself a pledge to no longer worry about how much t.v. they watch or how much juice they drink. Why? Worrying about these kind of things is only stressing me out! And honestly, I want my kids to experience all kinds of fun kid things, like watching goofy shows, getting a sugar high, skinning their knees, rolling in the grass, eating gross amounts of candy, playing with their friends and having a very active imagination. As long as an activity won’t cause immediate death, they should try it. After all, we all made it, didn’t we?

  33. Moses Clark December 22, 2008 at 12:23 am #

    This is good L…part of the problem with this educational toy is borrowed from our faulty educational system. You can’t lecture a baby! As an educator you might decide to be the lecturer or the engager…if you want your students and babies to really learn, you have to engage activity into their lives.

    –you can take that for your book! A Pundit Christmas Gift!

  34. Rebecca Johnston Quilici December 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    We got the baby blocks electronic toy for my now twelve year old son. It was this unit with 5 blocks with different shapes on each side that when you moved them played different instruments or beats to a Mozart concerto. There were add on cartridges you could buy, I bought the surfer music one. My son never played with it, could have cared less, but I still play with it from time to time, I thought it was cool!

  35. Annelise December 31, 2008 at 8:14 am #

    This might be a bit off, but something that helped my brother (and wasn’t supposed to) were audiobooks from the library. He was really anti-reading until about the fifth grade, and his teachers were talking about holding him back. Something about hearing Harry Potter and following along just clicked. It’s nothing new, but it worked.

  36. heather kass January 1, 2009 at 4:25 am #

    I can tell you that I have dealt with more than an average share of confrontation and feigned horror from “experts” about my lack of interest in “educational baby toys” (isn’t that a redundant phrase??) and “baby proofing” beyond common sense. I’m pretty sure there were moms in my moms’ group that were certain my kids would grow up to be drooling idiots due to my distaste for Baby Einstein, black and white squishy toys and the latest must-haves from the Safety First catalog.

    Let’s take the bathroom, for instance: the leader of said Moms’ Group was a well meaning, kind hearted and loving parent. She was also a nervous wreck in the face of the bombardment of parenting media depicting her own home as a House Of Certain Death for her infant and toddler. She had a toilet lock on the toilet. Great for a curious and totally unsupervised toddler, not so great when potty training. The cabinets in the bathroom all had magnetic locks; the magnets to unlock them were kept in the medicine cabinet….also locked. There was an inflatable bumper on the faucets in both tub and sink as well as a child-proof cover on the HOT tap on both. In addition to this lock down, there was a child-proof door latch on the (lockable) bathroom door AND a doorknob cover.

    It was easier to go to the neighbor’s house to pee.

    And this was only one room of the 2500 (or so) square foot house we met at, all under the guise of “socializing” our kids.

    Ha. HA HAAAAA!!

    I could talk about this all day.


  37. Amy January 5, 2009 at 1:51 am #

    Before my first daughter was born I bought, in my mindless ignorance, a baby book of phrases in various languages: English, French, Japanese, Hebrew and Spanish. Reading this book to your kid is supposed to expose them to the sounds of different languages so they will get smarter, do better at school, go to Harvard etc etc.

    Since then I’ve read a book or two on child development and language acquisition, and figured out what I should have realized in the first place: that me reading (phonetically) a bunch of disjoint foreign phrases in my Canadian accent is not going to do anything for anyone, developmentally-speaking. It’s not like I’m magically going to develop the cadences and phonemes required to speak all these languages while I’m reading “Hola, pato” and “Ou est la fleur?” It’s just going to be Mommy talking a bunch of gibberish. But I fell for it hard, back when I was preggers.

  38. Meaghan January 6, 2009 at 12:35 am #

    shrdlu :
    “Kids will learn no matter what you do. They don’t need stimulation, they don’t need drilling, they don’t need carefully orchestrated exposure to anything €” just live your lives and let them come along. ”

    YES!!! Right on the money and wonderfully stated.

  39. Meaghan January 6, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    Regarding the absurdity of the educational dvd industry, there is a whole chapter about it in a great book called “A Nation of Wimps”, by Hara Estroff Marano.

  40. Melissa January 8, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    Well, I’m normally not big on tv either, but I’m sorry to say that with a new baby in the house the tv has gotten a lot more use to entertain the 3 year old. I would much rather be taking him out in the snow but that will happen in time. We’re just surviving right now.
    As far as safety devices: I bought those door knob covers to keep my son from opening doors to the garage and the basement. He loves trying to break the things off the doorknobs. I find the two halves thrown all over the floor. But he still has no interest in opening the doors themselves. Also, someone gave us a bunch of Thomas dvds and while he likes the movies okay, what he really loves is ripping the dvd cases apart and trying to get to the paper pictures on the case covers so he can ‘read’ them.
    Oh, one other stupid safety thingy: I just read in a baby book that you should never use a plastic bag to cover a baby. It actually said that. DONT USE A PLASTIC BAG AS A COVER FOR BABY. I can’t remember which book it is but I can find it if you like.
    On anther sort of related note, we have decided not to put our three year old in pre-school since we’re leaning toward homeschooling and have so far been able to help him learn all sorts of amazing things on our own, such as the alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, etc…(And I don’t even have a college degree yet!) We constantly get asked how we plan to socialize him if he doesn’t go to preschool right now. I hate feeling like I have to defend myself when I try and explain that a.) the best socialization happens in a family first and foremost and b.) we have a church, neighbors, extended family and friends with whom we spend lots of time so it’s not like he’s being raised in a cave. Since when does a small child require an organized system to ‘socialize’ them? Seems to me that humanity has been socialized for millenia without the use of formal, stuctured education at such an early age (or at all) and has still managed to progress. Hmpphhh!
    Anyhoo, I’m done.

  41. Katherine January 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    RE: Videos.

    I am guilty of plopping my daughter down in front of a BE DVD we got as a gift. It was mildly entertaining but we haven’t watched it since. I agree the CDs are aweful…no person should be subjected to Mozart on synthesizers.

    RE: Safety

    I have been reminded several times by my good friend of the various ways I have been neglectful of my daughter’s safety. I have not bought the $150 baby monitor that tracks the baby’s heartbeat (because you can’t put a price on your child’s life), I refuse to move to the suburbs and I may not have always used boiled water to make her rice cereal (the city of Toronto has some of the safest water in the country). In our most recent conversation, she declared that she was going to homeschool her son. I was biting my tongue as I tried to avoid pointing out that she has not yet completed her high school education. We have to learn to relax. Thank you for your fantastic blog; I look forward to the book.

  42. Rob C January 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Apparently the latest of these money-wasters is something called ‘Your Baby Can Read’.

    No she can’t. She’s a *baby*.

  43. Ailbhe January 11, 2009 at 3:35 am #

    We had Baby Einstein DVDs which were great when the baby needed 8 hours sleep in three sessions and her parents needed 9 or so. And then we got a book full of mirrors (Mirror Me?) which said things like “Jane wiggles her fingers” and “Cow puffs his cheeks full of air.”

    My conclusion is that the baby crack effect is great. The educational aspects are… dubious. Anyway, since I could hardly keep up with my little mad professor under normal circs, surely accelerating her wasn’t a good idea?!

  44. Jialpa January 11, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    My friend’s kid loves Baby Einstein, except when he asks for it, it sounds like he’s saying “Baby Ass Time”.

  45. kirsti January 20, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    I have seen parents use these ‘educational media’ as electronic babysitters, no doubt about it but there are educational toys out there, also interactive toys (which is more to the point), for older kids (also a point = baby einstein – as someone pointed out, baby is an adjective here), which may provide them with knowledge not easily accessible in their schools. For example, my kids are bilingual, and in kindergarten…. I want them to retain their french language so their grandparents have sent DVDs which help with letters, reading and are in French for their aural comprehension. At the most my kids manage about 20 minutes once a week but they are ‘learning’ things. Moreover, these DVDs require me to be present and to be with them = no more babysitting. So sometimes I think we should not necessarily blame the tools but perhaps the master/purchaser of them and their intentions for their use?

  46. Lene P January 20, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Lenore,

    On the subject of Safety-gadgets, something that I learned from my mother-in-law (retired pediatric nurse, educated in the 50-ies, so basically old-school). Say no to you child, and be firm and consequent in your NO. There are things that a 6 month old baby may not play with. And the amazing thing is they get the drift, maybe not the first 1-20 times, but they do learn. Just like we did some 20-30 years back, when most furniture and “fun” things did not come equipped with safety-devices, and again, surprise, most of us living today survived it. I am not saying that all safety-devices are silly, but a firm, consequent, NO can save a lot of money. And it is also in the long run a good education…

  47. Alex January 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    I was VERY against TV before 2 years before I had a kid. I didn’t have a TV when I was a toddler. (In my 30s, hippie parents) I myself went through a few years with no TV, and loved it. TiVo and marriage changed that. Now I have to have TV, and I don’t mind because I can watch so many science and history shows whenever I want.

    Anyway, at 14 months she kept walking up to it and turning it on. I KNOW I COULD stop her, but I didn’t want to make it scarce and therefore more desirable.
    I’ve heard other parents say this happened at that exact age.

    I think there is a WORLD of difference between training your tiny baby to watch videos and letting your kid explore TV once THEY express interest.

    K has unlimited access to 1 or 2 DVDs at any given time. (We check informational stuff out from the library.) I never offer it, and make sure lots of other fun activities are available (crayons out, etc.) I get us out of the house. Many days go by without K asking for a video. Most of the time she is active while the video is on. I interact with her, she plays with toys, she leaves the room, she asks me to read books, she dances. Once in a while she wants to see a few things in a day. Generally it is part of something, like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes,” that she is trying to master in some way.

    I just wanted to point out that amoung the few families I know who do not limit TV, the obsessive, passive, glazed watching very rarely ever happens. There’s a lot of playing and walking away. This is a site dedicated to NOT parenting based on fear, and I don’t think people should keep their kids away from TV because they’re afraid they’ll become zombies.

    I do know one teenage who does almost nothing but watch TV. It’s horribly boring to visit because he won’t turn the sets off and they don’t make any effort to interact. The parents trained the kids as wee littles to watch TV so the adults would be left alone. They didn’t teach them to turn it off when they had guests, they didn’t initiate enough non-TV activities, and who knows what else. THAT is the problem, not the TV. And you know what? Out of the 3, only the socially awkward “late bloomer”–just like his dad!–is really over the top.

  48. dep February 21, 2009 at 2:45 am #

    Giving a kid an educational DVD is a good choice, but I think letting them play with their friends and doing many activities are better choices.

  49. DJ March 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    I will tell you that I think some of the Baby Einstein videos are wonderful — but not for the “educational” part either.

    I found that Baby Mozart was the only thing that could keep my 1 year old occupied for 20 minutes. I know all about expected attention spans, etc, but what I really wanted was a shower or time to make a quick dinner.

    Baby Mozart also saved us during the late night/early morning hours of toddler illness where he threw up and then was fine, but couldn’t go back to sleep. We would sit in the glide rocker and watch and be soothed and eventually both of us would drift off.

    So many other moms I know agreed with me — we bought a select few of these videos and were honest about our purpose — being selfish and having a few moments of peace.

  50. Baby Car Seats May 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    It is present just enoughly.Thank.I like this.

  51. Laura E June 8, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    I don’t get this site. It appears from a glance that it’s driven towards helping parents relax…don’t stress on the hype of what to do or not do in raising children. But then I read through this letter from the “expert” and then the responses (most of them.) It appears to me everyone is scared of these dvd’s. And a bit judgmental.

    I’m a huge proponent of teaching a child moderation. A little sweet food is ok but don’t overindulge in desserts, etc. I use the same philosophy with tv. I personally don’t know any parents who are so oblivious to their child’s activities that they sit, drooling as some here say they’ve seen, in front of a tv. Sometimes TV can be a good wind-down activity, followed by a book or straight to a nap. As many noted, they are especially useful when you need 20 minutes to clean or, my goodness, brush your hair and teeth.

    Based on this, I have 3 dvd’s, 2 of them gifts, but all of them are no more than 24 minutes. My daughter has never made it through any of them entirely. But a few have made her giggle, laugh, clap her hands, or point with excitement. She has certainly never drooled.

    There will always be those parents who rely on other things to educate their child. These same parents will probably take little interest in the child’s homework but ground the child when the report card comes back unsatisfactorily.

  52. max September 5, 2009 at 6:16 am #

    man i am always astonished when i stumble or slip and somebody starts the OMGAWD are you ok? are you sure? ARE YOU SURE?? when my kids are…..well when they exist..they are gonna learn that not every bruise on the knee is an OMGDISASTER. people make me tired sometimes.

  53. william November 23, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that ‘achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.’

  54. Andrea March 25, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    I am curious to see when parents pay more attention to the physical-health danger that comes from electronics. In today’s household, there are constantly several PCs/Laptops, TVs etc running – a electro-smog that MUST be harmful to babies. Or think about wireless LANs at home, or several cellphones. I did some research on baby crib furniture and its safety. I wish the guidelines and certifications that exist for baby furniture would be expanded to all goods for babies. Andrea from baby furniture cribs


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