Disney Backs Off Baby Einstein Claims – Back in the late 1990s, an mompreneur named Julie Aigner-Clark developed a series of DVDs (Baby Einstein) that would make infants smarter by stimulating their brains. “Studies show that if these neurons are not used, they may die,” the first press release warned ominously.
That’s all it really took. Parents couldn’t get enough of Baby Einstein. The urgency to purchase these videos or else miss out on valuable and impressionable years of brilliance development led to Baby Einstein earning millions. Aigner-Clark ended up selling her goldmine to Disney and got quite rich herself.
Disney Backs Off Baby Einstein Claims
But now, recent studies have an interesting twist on this revolutionary product and its revolutionary claims: They don’t make babies smarter. If anything, say critics, they make them dumber. It turns out that babies who’ve been plunked in front of Baby Einstein videos and videos like them for hours at a time have less language development than infants who haven’t. Here’s a better option – Instead of playing Baby Einstein videos, talk to them.
Over the years, Disney has wisely chosen to tone down claims for its Baby Einstein product and is now offering an extended refund period for parents who are not happy.
If this option had surfaced years ago, I would have jumped at the chance to get the Baby Einstein refund. I, like many, was drawn into purchasing several of these Baby Einstein videos due to its claims that my children would benefit and become little Einsteins themselves. It all started at a baby shower my co-workers threw for me almost 8 years ago. When I opened a gift and saw the Baby Einstein video, I did not think anything of it other than it was another baby video. After the baby shower was over, one of the moms came up to me and asked if I knew what the Baby Einstein video was all about, as if I should have known and if I did not, then I was really missing the boat. When I expressed that I had never heard of the series, she explained how the classical music used in these videos has been found to increase an infant’s intelligence. I was immediately a fan and looked forward to my baby watching the videos. I even recall when my husband and I saw one for the first time. We were baffled at the lack of dialogue, character interaction, plot, etc. Literally, all we were staring at was a bunch of toys with a hand in the screen showing how each one works… all going on to the beat of classical music. Nonetheless, our children LOVED these Baby Einstein videos. And, we as parents saw no harm in them watching them because they were supposedly getting smarter.
Over time, we ended up deciding for ourselves that this was not a good option and we pulled the Baby Einstein videos, much to the dismay of our kids. We sold them all on Ebay.
It’s hard to say what impact the Baby Einstein videos had on my children. This said, one should be just as challenged and tentative when making any sort of claim that the videos promote improved intelligence. I think the company was wrong to make such a claim, especially on unfounded ground. What kind of basis and proof could they possibly have to support this statement?
In today’s competitive world, parents don’t want to fall behind the eight ball. They will do everything possible to give their kids an edge. There’s no surprise that many bought into these Baby Einstein videos.
Lesson learned. I have tried not to be taken in by everything I read or hear. I don’t buy into the gimmicks of what will make my children smarter. I also understand that there is a chance that the gain these products claim to acquire is so marginal or indeterminate that the statements are likely unsubstantiated. I am instead taking the old fashioned route of teaching my children reading and math skills, life lessons, etc. with the help of everyday experiences and “tried and true” games and activities.
Even though the “smarter baby” Baby Einstein claims are gone, Baby Einstein still releases the colorful videos and, even though the original Baby Einstein claims are no longer associated, the stigma of what was previously advertised is still attached the Baby Einstein series.
Disney offering this quiet refund policy shows me that the Disney lawyers may be heading off a future lawsuit by anyone questioning the “smarter baby” Baby Einstein claims. I can’t help but feel bad for parents who felt that buying Baby Einstein videos and videos like them were really going to help their children in the long-run. To me, many well-meaning mothers have fallen prey to a snake-oil sales woman.
For more on the history of Baby Einstein claims and the products, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Einstein