Disney Offers Baby Einstein Refunds After Alleged False Advertising

If you’ve purchased Baby Einstein products, your tot is probably somehow—inexplicably—still not a genius. But you may be eligible for a refund of the purchase price, due to overzealous claims made about the products.

See, Baby Einstein products were marketed to parents as beneficial to children’s brain development….even though research indicates that the videos may be, um, the opposite of that.

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.”

The letter cited estimates from The Washington Post and Business Week that Baby Einstein controlled 90 percent of the baby media market, and sold $200 million worth of products annually.

I am not a parent, it’s true, but am I the only person who finds the existence of a “baby media market” incredibly creepy?

Disney and Baby Einstein fired back, insisting that they make no claims that their products are educational, and this is all the result of a propaganda campaign by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Unfortunately, with [CCFC Director] Susan Linn’s latest stunt, we cannot be silent any longer. Linn’s obvious dislike for Baby Einstein has now turned into a sensational, headline-grabbing publicity campaign that seeks to twist and spin a simple, customer satisfaction action into a false admission of guilt. This is clearly not the case.

Linn’s moves are carefully crafted to prey on parental guilt and uncertainty. This time, she began by asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to go after Baby Einstein because, she said, we claimed that Baby Einstein was educational. But we do not make any such claim – and the FTC brought no action.

Baby Einstein products and videos are extremely common in American homes, even though pediatricians recommend that children under 2 should watch no television at all, and early TV exposure may be linked to attention problems later in life.

If you have videos and would like to take part in the program, visit the company’s Guarantee/Upgrade Offer page.

No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund [NY Times]
The Baby Einstein™ DVD Upgrade / Moneyback Guarantee [Official Site]
Baby Einstein Sets The Record Straight On Refund [Official Site]

RELATED:
Do Baby Einstein Products Make Your Child Stupid? Well, The Lead Tainted Blocks Don’t Help
“Baby Einstein” Videos Probably Don’t Work, Might Even Hurt
University Of Washington Stands Up To Disney, Will Not Retract “Baby Einstein” Press Release

(Photo: _Nezemnaya_)

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  1. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

    Wow, we let our son watch sprout pretty much all day. He plays too, but the tv is pretty much always set on for him, as I am on the computer working.

    I hope he don’t end up with ADD!

    BTW, that boy sure loves Thomas The Train, lol.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @csparks: You too, huh?

    • Schildkrote says:

      @csparks:

      If you ask a child psychologist who’s out for your money if he’s got ADD, you better believe he’ll end up with it.

    • Dondegroovily says:

      @csparks: How about turning off the TV and actually doing something with your child? Imagine that.

      Unlike immunizations, TV is a plausible reason for an increase in autism.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Dondegroovily: How about providing adequate child care for working parents?

        • Alys Brangwin can't stop the beat says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): But you CHOSE to be a parent! I didn’t choose for you to do that, and MY money should never go to YOU! Stop being so selfish, parents!

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @Alys Brangwin can’t stop the beat: Yeah, stupid self-perpetuating human race!

            And parents should stop having unexpected things occur that take away their childcare options! Nobody should ever have kids unless they can guarantee they will never, ever get fired, have to take a different job, or get so sick that they can’t work! Parents who have to make COMPROMISES are just awful people!

            • Alys Brangwin can't stop the beat says:

              @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): When I think about the lack of support available to parents and the dissonance with “family values!” it makes me want to scream. It can’t be both ways!

              As for putting a kid in front of the TV, there are only so many hours you can play with a kid before you are completely exhausted. I know this, and all I’ve done is the occasional babysitting job. I bring out the dolls and we make up stories about the dolls. Little kids happen to love playing this way, but after about four hours I just need a break. I can’t imagine being a parent and constantly giving that much attention, and then being deprived of sleep by the crying baby.

              Sometimes the TV is a good solution. When I was a kid, my mom also would send us out of the house for an hour of peace, but we were above the age of 4 at that point. Usually when we were out there, we’d spend a few hours in the yard on the swingset and kicking a soccer ball around, and my brother looked out for me since he was older. I don’t know what she did with two genuinely ADHD children before they could run free.

            • thisistobehelpful says:

              @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Also there is birth control available. I think there should be more support for families (think France) but at the same point, you choose to have children, it’s your job to be stable for them not ours. If this country doesn’t provide enough resources in this department to meet your needs and you can’t meet them yourself, the responsible thing is to move or not have kids. It doesn’t have anything to do with not having a job or getting sick. If you think the social standards are below par but expect them to be a large part of your childrearing that’s something you should factor in to having a child.

        • Dondegroovily says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): While I agree there needs to be better childcare for working parents, this has nothing to do with TV. You can’t exactly leave the baby in front of the TV at home while you’re working.

          And when you’re home, of course, you don’t need the TV as a babysitter cause you’re home. If you’re cooking or something, stick the baby in front of blocks and books, not a TV.

          • henrygates says:

            @Dondegroovily: Clearly you don’t have a child. Sticking a baby in front of blocks and books will keep them occupied for exactly 30 seconds.

            • jaymec says:

              @henrygates: I have two kids and they do get tv from time to time, but the vast majority of their entertainment comes from blocks, crayons, and other similar toys. What I find amusing is that my kids and everyone other kid I know can play with blocks for long periods of time, but if you put them in front of one of the so called educational noise toys they lose interest rather quickly. There’s a reason some of those toys have been around as long as they have.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Well either way that’s kind of irresponsible. I will say it’s one thing to pop on Dora while you make their lunch or something but to leave the kid watching TV “pretty much all day” is pretty bad. Even if you work at home, at that point, you should probably just pay for a babysitter or someone to interact with the kid for at least some of the day.

          It also begs the question, what if the kid hurts himself? By putting on a video and assuming the kid is sitting there all day watching it (and not just wandering around the house looking for sharp things to put into outlets because the noise is still coming from the TV) is pretty dangerous.

      • betsbetsbets says:

        @Dondegroovily: While I’m in agreement with your sentiments about turning off the tv and engaging with a child, you need to know that 1) That study “proving” autism is caused by excessive television viewing was fatally flawed (it’s a bad case of correlation not being causation) and has been pretty much consigned to the proverbial dustbin of history and 2) recent studies, especially one in Great Britain have discovered that there is no “increase” in autism rates– only that increased awareness has led to better detection of less severe cases.

        That being said, as the mother of an autistic child, I limit tv viewing to less that 30 minutes a day, only because with my son’s echolalia, we will be talking to “Spongebob” and “Yo Gabba Gabba” for the rest of the evening.

    • Dracoster says:

      @csparks: You don’t get AD(H)D, you’re born with it.

      • hills says:

        @Dracoster: Can’t cite them, but there are studies that show that certain factors (like watching a lot of tv when young) can exacerbate ADHD – so what might have been a minor problem otherwise, can snowball into a big problem depending on environmental influences.

      • John says:

        @Dracoster: Yes but you can get a misdiagnosis for it and in fact they arn’t hard to get.

        A recent study concluded that strategically placing instruction around recess and meal times (and adding breakfast) in addition to allowing for a certain amount of free play in the morning greatly reduces the insidence of “ADD” like behavior.

        Having said that I am actually ADD and know many people who are actually ADHD and the over diagnosis only hurts us.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @csparks:
      Thomas the Train? Please, Thomas the Train pales in comparison to JJ the Jet Plane. This isn’t the 1800s anymore, trains aren’t cool; bring your kid into the modern world with JJ the Jet Plane and all of his aviation-based cohorts.

      • WillB says:

        @Esquire99: Thomas the Tank Engine has been the top license in that age demographic for about 60 years. It’s completely insane.

      • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

        @Esquire99: Its so funny, he grabs his thomas the train lunch box and puts it on the coffee table while he watches it, just crazy. Although I think its the sounds more than anything he enjoys.

        As far as it goes, he does not just sit in front of the tv all day, he goes and plays with his toys.

        My Wife works thirds, so she is sleeping until around 4, and when we cannot get a babysitter (very hard to find people to trust with your kids), I work from home. Its a okay arrangement, but hard to get work done. I try not to let any of my kids (my 2 oldest live with there mom) watch tv all day, but my youngest cannot go play outside without supervision (hes only 17 months old).

    • Skankingmike says:

      @csparks: Lol take it from somebody who has AD(H)D (whatever they want to call it now) TV keeps me entertained for moments, if I can leave I will. Computers are more likely because I control it and can visit 1000′s of websites. TV i flick through 400 channels get bored maybe find something then walk away when a comercial comes on and forget what I was watching to begin with.

      I have a hard time watching football, and I love football.

      You are born with ADD, born with Autism. There may be triggers, but TV isn’t going to cause you to have ADD that’s just a retarded nonfounded survey. Now if you told me that TV will ruin your eyes, I may believe you (though I have perfect vision, so again predisposition FTW).

  2. PunditGuy says:

    Our daughter had no video/computer exposure until past her second birthday. We’re not media haters — we were just following the advice of our pediatrician and the AAP. [www.aap.org]

    The only Baby Einstein product we had was a Christmas gift, still unopened. (Apologies to my sister.)

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @PunditGuy: Good for you. I couldn’t do it, but I also have 4 children ages 7 and under- If I didn’t have the TV to distract them once and a while, I’d have a complete meltdown and end up on the front page of a newspaper or top story on Fox News.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Verucalise(countingcalories): We’re kind-of aiming at a middle ground. I don’t think the AAP has super-strong research for that recommendation, based on what I’ve read (and it’s mostly survey studies anyway, and people lie a LOT about how much TV they let their kids watch).

        He hangs with us while we watch football, and he’s big enough now he’ll look at the magic glowing box for a couple minutes before deciding it’s more interesting to pull on our faces.

        I also like the TV as background noise sometimes and I don’t really see how that’s different from the radio (since we’re not in a part of the room we can see it then).

        I think there’s a big difference, though, between an episode of Sesame Street or Bob the Builder so mom can take a shower and clean the kitchen, and my acquaintance whose kid is plopped STARING at the TV for hours and hours a day. I sort-of suspect the AAP doesn’t trust us all to make decisions about moderation.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): BTW, my husband is the one I need to cut off from the TV. He can’t multitask AT ALL and he has a deep focus on whatever he’s doing, so if the TV is on, he is totally hypnotized by the magic glowing box and can’t do anything else. Like, seriously can’t even turn it OFF because it doesn’t have a natural stopping point (commercials keep him hypnotized).

          (I, OTOH, grew up in a big family and then worked in newsrooms, so I’m used to having the TV on and ignoring it.)

          • lmarconi says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I’m like that too. If there’s a TV on, I cannot function. Sometimes I don’t even hear people when they’re talking right at me.

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): My TV is on all the time but I don’t always watch. I grew up a huge bookworm who even now can barely watch TV without a book to read.

            I think the AAP recommendation is also about language development and human interaction as well as attention span, etc. It’s just better for babies and very small children to get that from other humans rather than the “boob tube.” At any age, however, excessive TV watching is kind of a brain killer.

            • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

              @HogwartsAlum: Yeah. Part of my issue is, toys with lights and sounds are good. But SCREENS with light and sound are bad. TV is bad. Radio is good. Reading is good, unless you record an mp3 of you reading, in which case listening to the recording is “alienating” for a child under 2. (But radio/music is good.)

              My little guy is fascinated by the glowing screen and the button sounds when I text his dad. I’m not going to hide the phone while texting for 30 seconds three times a day, even though this is technically “screen time.” (And remember, screen time in moderation is still officially bad!) I just don’t see much difference between that and his educational exersaucer toy that lights up and makes noise when he pushes things.

              I think it’s all just a little ridiculous. I really do think the reason the AAP is so all-or-nothing is that they don’t trust parents to exercise moderation … but the parents who are diligent about their children’s development are the ones who listen to the AAP; the ones who are likely to ignore signs their child is bored or lonely probably aren’t paying attention to the AAP anyway. So functionally all they do is add MORE anxiety to parents who are already high-anxiety.

              We listen to music as long as he seems excited and interested in it. Then we turn it off and do something else, without the AAP or anybody else giving us “guidelines” on what to do. Revolutionary, I know. :P

              • HogwartsAlum says:

                @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I don’t think you need to worry about texting; I think you’re right about the not trusting parents to exercise moderation; plus, I think it really is more about the lack of interaction, not that the screen is bad and will warp a tiny mind.

                Listening to music is GOOD for tiny brains! Helps them grow and appreciate music. Maybe Baby McGee will grow up to be an advocate for arts!

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @HogwartsAlum: yeah, i tend to read, have discovery channel or food network on, play a video game [yes, it has its own tv] and surf the web at the same time.
              i only have to focus on one thing if it’s say – a boss fight or a tv show or movie with a dramatic plot or if i need to catch a big explosion on mythbusters.

              when i have had roommates in the past it drove them crazy

          • TheWillow says:

            @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!):

            My roommate is the same way. He refuses to believe that I can multitask – just having my laptop open while I’m sitting on the couch means he thinks he can change the channel without asking because I’m clearly not watching.

            ………

    • lmarconi says:

      @PunditGuy: Sometimes that Noggin channel seems alright for occasional viewing by kids. A friend sometimes drops off her daughter for me to look after if she’s in a bind and since I don’t have a ton of kid’s stuff and it’s often unexpected, sometimes I let the kid watch that channel. She always asks to watch Disney channel, but I somehow cannot bring myself to let a six year old indoctrinate herself with Hannah Montana.
      That said, I went back and watched some of the stuff I watched as a kid (Looney Tunes, Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Jetsons, Muppets – I hung out a lot at my grandparents’ house) and it’s way more violent than I remembered. So who the hell knows, everything in moderation maybe.

  3. Tim says:

    Oh, come on. They make a product, call it “Baby Einstein,” put the slogan “Where Discovery Begins” on it … how is that not claiming that the product is meant to be educational?

    A real defense against this kind of claim is to commission a study showing that the videos work. It’s pretty sad that a company the size of Disney can’t find one hackjob researcher to do that.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @TCama: I may be wrong, but I sort-of recall they had “studies” and they were debunked. But that was before I had kids so I wasn’t paying close attention and I may be misremembering.

      • Stephmo says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): The original studies were based on college students. Basically, the line started with the Mozart CDs and expanded from there to the huge empire – but the way the study went was:

        Group A: Listened to Mozart before taking a 15-minute IQ test.
        Group B: Did not listen to Mozart.

        Group A scores 9-10 points higher – this becomes the Mozart Effect. This effect, by the by, is TEMPORARY.

        Somehow, it starts appying to babies and all sorts of parents are playing Mozart for their babies in womb and as babies and toddlers.

        Baby Einstein is born during this time and takes advantage of similar “studies” that have no real long-term studies, studies on babies or anything beyond things like, “babies respond better to X over Y” type things behind their pseudo-science.

      • lincolnparadox says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Music is a mathematical delivery device. Any well-crafted, complex piece of music will give your child some access to mathematical ideas.

        That doesn’t mean that it will turn them into Richard Feynman or have them doing calculus by Age 3. What it means is that the parts of the brain that are used during mathematical analysis are turned on when you play music. It’s about input and experience, giving the old noggin a workout.

        Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Bach are all great composers to expose your children to. But so are more contemporary artists like Puccini, Wagner, heck even Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, or Norah Jones.

        But why stop at one form of sensory input? Audiobooks or (god forbid) reading to your child will help them with language. Taking them to a museum or a sculpture garden with help them with form and pattern recognition. Taking them to the zoo or the local botanical gardens will teach them colors, smells, textures.

        I don’t think Disney did anything wrong, except make the CDs into videos. Television, as much as I love it, is never the best mode of education. Especially with the amount of repetition that comes with baby and toddler TV programming.

  4. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    So this super-self-righteous woman I know who gets all up in people’s faces about their parenting choices being inferior to hers because SHE breastfed until he was a zillion years old and SHE co-slept and SHE doesn’t let him have sugar or hot-dogs ….

    Anyway, she was at my baby shower (long story), and SHE GAVE US A BABY EINSTEIN VIDEO. I was honestly shocked. I figured her kid was only allowed to read organic soy-ink recycled-paper books about multicultural interspecies gay penguin relationships where everyone works together to build a solar plant. And a little bothered, because first of all, I also find the baby media market creepy and secondly, given how touchy the baby TV issue is, it’s not something I would give for a shower.

    Anyway, it turns out that entertaining her perfect organic child cuts into her leisure time, so he basically spends 24/7 in front of the TV and/or computer. Now that he’s starting school, he has big communication problems. (Although I’m not sure it’s so much the TV as the fact that she doesn’t TALK to him ever because it cuts into HER life.)

    • subtlefrog says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): “I figured her kid was only allowed to read organic soy-ink recycled-paper books about multicultural interspecies gay penguin relationships where everyone works together to build a solar plant.”

      I almost peed I laughed so hard at this. Thanks for the morning laugh!

    • Alys Brangwin can't stop the beat says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I wonder what that kid eats at school. I bet that it contains sugar.

      This also sounds like a great recipe for family resentment. When the kid is old enough, she’ll remind him how many sacrifices she had to make for him, and he will hate her for not talking to him after said sacrifices.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Alys Brangwin can’t stop the beat: He brings all his food from home and in the modern allergy world, schools are pretty strict about not letting kids trade when they’re little.

        (And, you know, again, many kids probably eat too much sugar and parents SHOULD be responsible for their kid’s diet. But it’s a little sad when he can’t even have birthday cake on his birthday or isn’t ever allowed to eat at a friend’s house, even at parties.)

        • Alys Brangwin can't stop the beat says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): They don’t let you trade?! Jerks!

        • floraposte says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Oh, God. One of those people who thinks she’s creating an extension of herself, not another person. He’s going be in charge of drilling in Alaska, you just know it.

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @floraposte: The whole situation is crazy. As a general rule, I’m pretty laissez-faire about parenting and not very interested in criticizing how other people raise their kids, barring outright abuse or serious danger — but this, I get all irritated every time I think about it.

            Part of it is that she’s so fucking self-righteous and judgmental and always in everyone ELSE’S face, so it’s hard not to judge back. (I use a baby bjorn instead of a sling and OH THE HUMANITY! I’m scarring him for life!) But when I think about it, some of her decisions do rise to the level of neglect.

            • kaceetheconsumer says:

              @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): LOL, yeah, I’ve known some of those sorts too.

              I figure if I make the best possible, most-informed-that-I-can-reasonably-be choices for my kid, she should turn out reasonably okay. So I pick and choose from different “styles”…I’m kinda crunchy in some ways like I did breastfeed until my daughter was just over two, but I’m way mainstream in others like letting my kid play with *gasp* PLASTIC toys and watch some TV and omg even eat at McDonalds on occasion!

              So I get snarked by the crunchies and the mainstream equally. Lucky me.

              And why oh why are the snarkies always so damned ignorant? I got jumped on by a crazy anti-vaxer a week ago: [kimberlychapman.livejournal.com] If you’re gonna criticize someone else’s parenting choices, at least base your reasoning on actual FACT, mmkay? Sheesh.

              • Kuchen says:

                @kaceetheconsumer: Read your blog post, and way to stand up to ignorance! I have had very similar discussions with coworkers in the past. The scariest part about that is that I’m a nurse, and these coworkers are nurses who actually administer some of these things and they don’t know what they’re talking about. I was actually told “Get your facts straight! MMR has been PROVEN to cause autism.” Excuse me, where did you find this so-called “fact”?

                • queenofdenial says:

                  @Kuchen: My baby’s nurse told me she will not be getting her (currently in-utero) twins vaccinated against chicken pox, she will just let them catch it. Who will they catch it from? All the vaccinated kids?

                  • Kuchen says:

                    @queenofdenial: I’m all for letting people make their own parenting decisions. But if you have any credentials behind your name that make you an authority for medical information, you should not be giving patients your opinions. You should be giving them information that is recommended by reputable sources and supported by current research. It’s called evidence-based practice.

                    I HATE when patients ask what I would do. I always say something to the effect of “The American Association of Pediatricians recommends…” and add a “You and your pediatrician can decide together what is best for your child” for good measure. You don’t need to know what I would do, and I what I choose for my child should in no way influence what you choose for yours just because I have RN after my name.

                    • thisistobehelpful says:

                      @Kuchen: Well as a doctor or nurse you’re supposed to be part of the reputable sources. They assume that since you already have access to this information that you’d be following the guidelines you find most helpful or safe in your own house. This is not unreasonable. You people are our experts.

            • floraposte says:

              @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Yeah, I’m a lot more willing to leave people alone if they don’t seem determined to tell everybody else to follow their example.

              Do you know Judith Rich Harris’ The Nurture Assumption? Really interesting book, identifying the tendency of late 20th century child psychology to be blind to its own “blank slate” bias and interpret research accordingly, while squelching stuff that indicates genetics played a more significant role. Aside from the “whoa, we blew that one” survey, she offers the hypothesis that the nurture effects that do accrue come more from the child’s peers than his parents (as it clearly does with language, for instance). You could always anonymously send her a copy.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): The word “co-slept” is freaking retarded. I guess married people co-sleep with their spouses as well. She’s lucky that baby isn’t dead.

      So basically you’re saying her parenting choices are wrong. (I’d agree :)

  5. Dondegroovily says:

    I love the picture for this article. Hilarious!

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    If Disney is smart, they’ll move the Baby Einstein division to Louisiana, Mississippi or Texas (except Austin, of course), then tell all suing parents,
    “Compared to our babies, yours is a genius!”

    Plaintiffs, of course, hope they’ll move to Lake Wobegon instead.

  7. Nick1693 says:

    Is there really a need for Baby Einstein? Fiber cereals? No TV until 2?

    I’ve had all my shots, I’ve had bandaids without antibiotics on them, I’ve had stitches from playground accidents. Guess how I learned the stove was hot.

    Can’t kids just be kids anymore?

    • Geekmom says:

      @Nick1693: Of course not! If we allowed our kids to be kids all the sunshine smoking hippy nazis come out of the wood work demanding our kids get taken away for bad parenting.

      Oh my gosh your 9 year old played in the fenced in back yard with the dog and you didn’t stand there and stare at them the whole time?! Call child services!

    • floraposte says:

      @Nick1693: “Can’t kids be kids?” is usually just an alarmed response to anything different than one’s own childhood, which is presumed to be the most desirable one ever.

      I mean, the fullness of your non-interference doctrine would make your parents wusses for having gotten you vaccinated, and if I recall your age correctly, you grew up in an era rife with safety controls unknown to previous generations over most of your home. It’s okay to take care of your kid, even in ways that your parents might not have because particular advantages weren’t known or available.

      That doesn’t mean Baby Einstein has any use, or that fiber in sugary cereals isn’t dumb (either feed the kids real food or accept that you’ve caved on the cereals, seriously). But there’s nothing inherently real-kid about watching TV at 18 months or other things you or I may have done, and parents can do stuff differently without being weirdly overprotective.

      • Nick1693 says:

        @floraposte: I know my childhood wasn’t the most desirable.

        However, there needs to be some kind of point where people look back and say “What the hell are we doing?” and loosen up.

        • floraposte says:

          @Nick1693: You missed the exciting era where mothers were blamed for making their kids schizophrenic. There’s not a lot of encouragement for parents to lighten up when it’s All Their Fault.

          • kaceetheconsumer says:

            @floraposte: And for ages autism was caused by “cold mothers”. Now we’re to blame for it if we vaccinate our kids.

            A friend of mine back in Vegas got told she’d “killed” her child after she said the baby had recently had a vaccination.

            After we used one of the free samples of premix formula when our daughter was two weeks old and my milk production wasn’t at full scale yet, I got told I’d “destroyed her gut bacteria for LIFE.”

            Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, damned if you try to find a happy middle…

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @kaceetheconsumer: i was allergic to/intolerant of all milk as a baby, even breast milk. had to be fed soymilk [still hate all forms of soy, incidentally]
              amazingly, i got over my milk problems in a couple of years by my dad getting a yogurt maker and feeding me active culture yogurt several times a week.
              then getting 11 ear infections in one year and living on antibiotics most of the time did it again when i was 16/17. so i started eating a lot of active culture yogurt and now i drink about a gallon of milk a week with no problems.
              the bacterial balance is easily restored and those people are just looking for something to snark at you about

              • kaceetheconsumer says:

                @catastrophegirl: Yeah, I’m pretty sure letting her go hungry when she was losing weight would have been worse than a single dose of formula, with her otherwise being breastfed the whole time.

                People are always looking to snark other parents. I think it makes a lot of nervous parents feel better about their own mistakes if they can snark others. I guess I do it too, since I snark the snarks for being snarks. :D

            • floraposte says:

              @kaceetheconsumer: There’s a line in a book by novelist Fay Weldon about changing authority on feeding babies, with the underlying point being “You shall never, ever enjoy this child you have had the temerity to have.”

              It seems to me that the non-authorities have dived in to aid and abet on that front, and it disappoints me.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @floraposte: I do think he’s right in that there’s a much more all-or-nothing perfection-oriented attitude towards parenting these days. It’s a very high-anxiety undertaking.

        We got dressed down the other day because the baby sleeps on the other side of the wall from our bed in a room whose door is 5 feet from our room … and we’re not using a monitor at night. I can hear him just fine without the monitor and I’m a light sleeper, but apparently we’re not keeping a close enough eye on him. The couple we were talking to was HORRIFIED and deeply concerned we were compromising the baby’s safety.

        That kind of thing didn’t happen nearly as much in my parents’ era. There’s so much rigidity in the various orthodoxies of child-rearing that many people follow.

        • floraposte says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): While I agree, I’d say that “these days” are at least a decade old, so they weren’t much different during Nick’s childhood. The Generation Y workforce enterers with the helicopter parents who come to interviews pre-date him.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): could be worse. you could wrap him in swaddling clothes or tie him to the cradle

          [historymedren.about.com]

          • thisistobehelpful says:

            @catastrophegirl: All the mothers I know have been taught to swaddle. Anything I can find about swaddling on the AAP site pretty much recommends it if done right. While the leaving the kid all day in the crib is horrible, what’s so bad about swaddling? The stuff linked from AAP even says helps with excessive crying and the kiddies sleep longer.

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @thisistobehelpful: this from the article:

              “In cultures such as England in the High Middle Ages, babies were often swaddled, theoretically to help their arms and legs grow straight. Swaddling involved wrapping the infant in linen strips with his legs together and his arms close to his body. This of course immobilized him and made him much easier to keep out of trouble.”

              they still teach wrapping children’s limbs to their bodies on purpose? i don’t have kids myself but i have a lot of friends who do and none of them have ever done that. honestly, it doesn’t sound to me too much like a good way to help a baby grow and learn to be active.

              if i were to have kids, i think i’d probably be against the practice.

              • thisistobehelpful says:

                @catastrophegirl: Well the mothers I know only have done it when the children were very young infants. At the one birth I actually witnessed the nurses even came in and taught my friend how to do it. The idea behind it, as I have been told and understand it, is that it makes them feel secure and comforted as well as warm and stable for sleeping. You wrap them tightly like in the womb. I’ve never know anyone to use it when the kid is actually mobile and more than a little jiggling people shaped drool factory. I’ve never been under the impression that it’s supposed to be used after very early infancy, like first 3 months ish.

        • kaceetheconsumer says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Hah, and I get dirty looks when I confess that I do still use the monitor because I can’t hear if my kid is up there playing Lego otherwise. It’s not even a safety thing anymore…it’s nap-management.

          I suppose one of us must truly suck and the other must be perfect, according to the busybodies who like to tell everyone else what to do? ;)

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Nick1693: go read about the free range kid movement sometime. what freaks me out is the woman who let her kid walk a few blocks to the school and the COPS brought him home JUST for walking to the school alone.
      when i was growing up that was not only expected but required by the school system because they didn’t have the space at school to accomodate all the traffic from parents picking up kids who lived too close for buses

      • kaceetheconsumer says:

        @catastrophegirl: Yeah, that’s about right.

        When I was in the wheelchair in June I asked around for disabled-friendly little-kid activities here in Austin, and people kept saying the Children’s Museum. When I pointed out that it’s actually not disabled friendly because there are multiple exhibits for which you have to climb stairs, I got snarked big-time and told that I should let my then three-year-old up there on her own. When I pointed out that if I did that and she got hurt or hurt someone else, those same people would be the first to jump on me as negligent, only then did they shut the hell up.

    • BabyFirefly says:

      @Nick1693: No, kids these days need to be ambitious, rich, and have a career that earns them a million dollars. At school, they must play four sports, do ballet, volunteer, and be class president, and get the highest GPA possible.

      I wonder if the pressure kids have these days correlates with a higher number of teen depression/suicide?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Guess how I learned the stove was hot.

      @Nick1693: Someone told you it was hot.

  8. GitEmSteveDave_Marryin'Couples says:

    My parents is using this product with me, and I is very smrt because of its. Stoopid moran babies.

  9. colorisnteverything says:

    I think I was allowed to watch TV before I was two. I think it was always PBS because I grew up watching Lambchop and Thomas. My parents read to me, played with me, and I was reading by the age of 4. So, apparently I am not so screwed up.

    However, Baby Einstein is something my parents would have never spent money on. My mother thought that talking to us was priceless.

    To be fair, while my sister is a great kid, she was the one who developed more slowly and has a learning disability. She’s highly intelligent, but people always blame my parents for her difficulties. Funny because I was the “exemplary” kid and I spent my time in daycare, while mom stayed home to watch my sister and then Dad became Mr. Mom for a couple of years when mom went back to work. Sister was the wild child. I was the well behaved, social, outgoing one.

    Of course, now, she’s 18 and perfectly normal, but she used to be terribly shy and have difficulty in school – all which was blamed on my poor parents who undoubtedly should have just made her watch educational videos!

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @colorisnteverything: That’s really dumb. It’s not their fault, it’s not her fault. The people blaming your ‘rents should be slapped.

      • colorisnteverything says:

        @HogwartsAlum:

        Agreed. My sister’s old teacher was at a meeting my mother went to and seemed surprised that she had made it the national debate finals. She once called my sister stupid.

        My mother rubbed it in her face.

  10. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Hahahaha, I got a Baby Einstein video from the library when my kid was in the appropriate demographic age range and she was bored by it. Tried one more another time and she liked the duck puppet (because she was obsessed with ducks) but was again otherwise bored and went to play in the other room while it was on.

    Before I had kids I swore I’d never babysit by TV. That wore off when I got hungry and discovered that TMBG’s “Here Come The ABCs” was like baby crack…I could sit her in front of it and go have a hot meal. And then she did her alphabet forwards and backwards by age 15 months.

    Our current preschooler babysitter is TMBG’s “Here Comes Science” and now my 4-year-old is obsessed with memorizing the periodic table of elements. Go ahead and quiz her…she knows the first 20 by heart and a bunch after that. Oh sure, it leads to tantrums when a kiddie book on the PToE doesn’t cover Curium (“But Curium is 96 and I love the number 96 and it’s not fairrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”), or a pre-nap tantrum because she’s BORED with Lithium and wants to read about something else, but I’ll take it.

    TV isn’t evil. Lack of TV isn’t evil. Making sensible choices based on your family’s particular needs in the moment: that’s the key.

    And anyone who thinks a given video in and of itself will make your kid a genius is clearly too stupid to be allowed to participate in society. TMBG only introduced the PToE to my kid…it took my husband and I as parents to pay attention to her, talk to her, show her stuff, get a poster and hang it on the wall and talk about it, etc etc etc to keep up the learning.

    So parents, let junior watch, but you do have to occasionally turn the thing off and TALK to your kid, and READ to them (and no, LeapFrog automated books don’t count as you reading to them), and show them about the world yourself.

  11. twophrasebark says:

    So does anyone want to invest in my new company:

    Puppy Einstein

    It’s gonna be awesome.

  12. dimndgal1 says:

    I won’t lie, I let me daughter watch TV early — I was sick with pneumonia, she was teething, and my husband was on a work trip… Mickey Mouse and Sesame Street saved my sanity.
    Since then, we have filled our Tivo with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Charlie and Lola, Sesame Street, and Little Einsteins. My daughter gets to watch one show before preschool, one show before dinner, and one after dinner – behavior depending. Also, during the rainy season (read 30+ days of straight rain) we bust out the Disney movie collection, and weekends have a lot of sports time.
    By age 2, my daughter could speak in basic sentences, count to 10, knew her colors, and could use “please” and “thank you” correctly. Once we started using TV time as a positive reinforcement tool, her time outs decreased.

    Not all TV is bad. Sometimes it keeps her sanity, sometimes mine. As a whole, I think it can be a useful tool to supplement other involvement and play. I give a lot of credit to parents who can leave the TV off, but I enjoy watching my daughter pick up on the shows and incorporate it into daily life. I also enjoy having her sit next to me screaming “Touchdown!” and saying “Look, mommy! They got 7 points!”

  13. Razor512 says:

    The baby market in general is almost all scams.

    Most promise results that can take a long time to prove or disprove which pretty much makes it so you loose your money either way.

    Also baby products are insanely overpriced even though they have some of the cheapest production cost.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Razor512: I was actually discussing with a friend of mine who’s a pediatrician the other day how so many baby toys are actually well-researched, safe, and developmentally appropriate … and they hit two and suddenly it’s an explosion of branded plastic accessories relating to Disney shows, and that we thought that was odd.

      There is baby crap out there, but there’s a lot of developmentally-helpful stuff too. Like a $12 “Taggies” blanket that’s a little 12″ blanket (right size for car seat and baby handling) that has little “tags” of ribbon sticking off the sides for the baby to play with different textures and to have them to suck and chew on. This thing is basically endlessly fascinating to him and keeps him warm in his carseat too.

      • Jupichan says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!):

        Ohh man. When I was a wee Jupi, I loved so many of my stuffed animals almost solely for the reason of the tags hanging off them. I got such comfort out of rubbing them between my middle and ring finger. I still do it sometimes with my shirt if I’m really stressed out. Calms me right down. Haha.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @Jupichan: They have a whole line of toys now based on that! We just got the little blankie, though. Just the right size for his carseat when it’s a little chilly, and a good size for him to be able to manipulate on his own.

          At first he just liked to stare at all the bright different colors, and then he liked to touch the fleece, and now that he can grab he likes to practice grabbing them and then gnawing them!

          [www.taggies.com]

          (I know I could have made one myself, but you’d have to buy so much ribbon!)

  14. elysse says:

    We had some of those for the twins. I think I finally got my money’s worth when they used the cases for other things and used the discs themselves as frisbees.

    LOL at the exchange of crap Baby Einstein videos for Crap Baby Einstein Stuff. Way to go, Disney.

    • juri squared says:

      To be fair, I was given a couple Baby Einstein books and they’re pretty nice – big photos, interesting text, and the like.

      The books, of course, are not the videos, and I steer clear of those.

  15. 2 replies says:

    I say BULLSHIT to Disney.
    Just as company should be prevented from making similar unfounded product claims in the future, as well as fined (with the money be put towards some public works project),… IMO, the individual saps who were to stupid to realize that babies who can’t speak or read let let-alone know enough not to shit themselves aren’t going to be learning anything from a DVD other than shiny noisy flashy, shouldn’t get a red cent back from the company.

    Just as the company shouldn’t be allowed to profit from retarded marketing decisions, neither should the consumer be allowed to benefit from retarded decisions.

    Since the kid was never going to learn anything from the products, the parent should have to learn their lesson as well. (Not to just turn around and dump the cash back into some other pointless “feel-good” “I’m parenting my child by-proxy!” product.

  16. strathmeyer says:

    Linn’s comments are apparently only meant to confuse the type of parents stupid enough to buy Baby Einstein products in the first place.

  17. elizass says:

    The refund has nothing to do with the allegations. Disney has ALWAYS had a money-back offer with these videos since the products were launched. Good job spinning the headlines Consumerist. Its what you do best! Keep on scamming.

  18. witeowl says:

    I think that it’s absolutely hilarious that parents have to admit that:

    1) They were stupid enough to think that a video could make their kid(s) smart(er).
    2) Their kids aren’t smart(er).

    Talk about a time when it’s better to just shut up and walk away…

  19. oldtaku says:

    This is a little weird. Doesn’t offering refunds for defective products marketed to stupid people kind of undermine the entire premise of commercials? This could be a bad precedent for Disney.

  20. BabyFirefly says:

    This craze to force the “genius” out of children is disturbing.

    Parents: not everyone is going to be great.

    I remember the Baby Einstein craze, my sister was fairly young. I also remember, very clearly, a friend of my family’s who had a son, a four month old who didn’t even know how to say “mama”, and he was trying to teach the kid how to read.

    I hope the parents get their refunds, because many people were affected by the crap that were these repetitive, boring videos.

  21. Woofer00 says:

    I don’t get why parents can’t just buy the toy or puppets on the screen, turn on some Mozart, and let them actually go to town with em. I definitely remember playing with more than 90% of the toys shown in the videos when I was little, and I hear (this is totally fact supported) that it is 1000x better to have hands on experience with the toys than to watch it on a screen.

  22. LeChiffre says:

    I never understood this generation of parents’ obsession with trying to influence their kids into this Einstein crap. What’s wrong with just having a normal, healthy kid? What more could you want? Now parents are having their 5 year old girls in pagents, etc. It’s pure luck that any kid comes out mentally or physically better and that won’t guarantee that that kid will be a “rock star”. More “rock stars” have come from normal childhoods, not Einstein childhoods.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @LeChiffre: “More “rock stars” have come from normal childhoods, not Einstein childhoods. “

      That’s probably primarily because their first several years, children learn through play, not formal instruction.

  23. fluidexistence says:

    I’m going to take this as a widely-exploitable precedent and sue Cinemax for not making me a swarthy, irresistable biker who can seduce women with the simple shedding of a torn leather jacket.

    Totally appropriate.

  24. Working for the man, he pays well. says:

    It is worth noting that the actual research purported to answer nothing, see the related links. Consider that they looked at one aspect of a child’s life and made a sweeping causal statement. I am not sure basing your parenting style off this “research” is any better than basing it off Disney’s word. The NY Times piece does not really even identify the impact. 6 to 8 words less for every hour… What does that mean? Out of how many words on average?

    The bigger concern for me is that I see many comments justifying their use of these products. It goes to show how worried we are about how others will perceive our parenting. As if we need an excuse to occupy our children for an hour; to maintain our sanity. My wife and I used them. No excuses needed. Our kids are fine 5 years later. As long as you love your kids, they will be fine.

  25. PermanentStar says:

    These don’t bother me as much as the “Your baby can read” dvds…

  26. aloe vera says:

    I would so love to get the $$ back for the two Baby Einstein DVD’s we own, but my daughter actually likes them, and asks to watch them fairly regularly.

    And I hate to admit it, but I really do think she learned some of her shapes from watching – with our supervision and imput as well.

  27. vladthepaler says:

    Considering the existence of a cat video market, I think a baby video market seems positively sane.

  28. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Karma is a bitch, ain’t it Disney? The brother inventor of a friend of mine was already using the Baby Einstein name for his products and website when Disney snatched in with their lawyer vultures wanting the name and threated to sue him into anit-matter for daring to have an idea for kids before they did. Not having the money to fight them, he gave in.

    Poetic Justice…

    Look all you sappy wide eyed big kids inside – Disney doesn’t love you OR your kids – you are simply profit opportunities for them, they are no different from any other corporation.

    I leave you with a quote from their current CEO:

    “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. Our only obligation is to make money.” Michael Eisner. Source: Wikipedia: [en.wikipedia.org]