Do Baby Einstein Products Make Your Child Stupid? Well, The Lead Tainted Blocks Don't Help

Back in August, the University of Washington issued a press release about a study in the Journal of Pediatrics that examined the effect that baby videos (such as the Disney “Baby Einstein” series) had on young children.

The study concluded that the videos, when watched alone, were potentially harmful to the development of a child’s vocabulary. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children under 2.)

Disney’s CEO, Robert A. Iger, then issued his own press release, demanding a retraction from the University of Washington, calling the University’s press release “grossly unfair, extremely damaging, and, to be blunt, just plain wrong in every conceivable sense.”

The President of the University of Washington, Mark A. Emmert, politely refused to retract the press release, responding (in still another press release), that the researchers did not feel that the press release was inconsistent with their findings.

Today, Kids II Inc., a company that licenses the name “Baby Einstein,” (the brand Disney was so worried about protecting from the “grossly unfair” academics at the University of Washington), recalled some “Baby Einstein” blocks because the paint contained “excessive levels of lead.”

We truly, and without one hint of sarcasm, can’t wait to hear what Robert A. Iger has to say about this.

Kids II Recalls Baby Einstein Color Blocks Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard [CPSC]

PREVIOUSLY: Walt Disney Demands Retraction From University of Washington Over Baby Einstein Video Press Release
University Of Washington Stands Up To Disney, Will Not Retract “Baby Einstein” Press Release
Disney, Toys ‘R Us To Begin Random Testing Of Toys


Edit Your Comment

  1. UpsetPanda says:

    What strikes me as especially hilarious is that this CEO doesn’t have his own research to say, “but no it does help.” What he essentially replied with was a hissy fit.

  2. SVreader says:

    I just read the previous posts on the back-and-forth between U of WA and Robert A. Iger, and while I agree that it would be upsetting that a study that didn’t focus on Baby Einstein specifically resulted in reporters going, “OMG Baby Einstein makes ur kids dum!!!!!”, it’s pretty hard to justify lead.

    On the other hand, they do have a Baby Van Gough line, and Van Gough is sometimes suspected of having lead poisoning, so maybe it makes sense after all!

  3. spinachdip says:

    We actually got those exact toys as a gift, but thank goodness, I just checked the serial number and we’re safe (for now), and she doesn’t pay any attention to them.

    Still, as a parent, I hate freaking out and having to check the serial number every time there’s another recall in a seemingly endless stream of them.

    @SVreader: Speaking of Van Gough, she thinks the sunflowers on the dining table are the most amazing fucking things in the world. God bless her.

    @MissJ: Yeah, “it does help” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, when pretty much everything else in the world helps too, usually for cheaper, like the aforementioned sunflowers.

  4. I think I know a parent who specifically had a kid so she could play Baby Einstein for the baby. I showed her the research on the TV/ADD link for kids younger than two (this was a three-month-old baby), and she stopped.

  5. asherchang says:

    You do realize that the researchers tested the baby videos by
    sticking children in front of TV screens by themselves and without any
    person to interact with, while the “control” group was not subjugated
    to watching anything at all from a boob tube?

    Please, keep such sensationalist notions out of Consumerist.

  6. LucyInTheSky says:

    well i always knew these were useless. if you want your kid to be smart, how about, i dont know, reading a book to them? *gasp* but that would require some effort! god forbid!

  7. Buran says:

    Before these companies scream “It’s grossly unfair!” … did they read the paper? This stuff is peer-reviewed before being published, so I’d say it’s got a far better chance of being accurate than their whining.

  8. Musician78 says:

    Actually there ARE no stupid children. They may be mentally or intellectually challenged. Or special. But never stupid.

  9. dotorg greg says:

    @SVreader: actually, the study included a survey that mentioned Baby Einstein videos by name, so their inclusion in the results and press releases was entirely justified, as the UofW pointed out.

    What’s missing from this sweet, sweet ironic stew, is that the pediatrician who did the Baby Einstein research is the same guy who did the “Blocks make your baby smarter!” study which came out last week.

    And that study was financed by a block mfr, who is also a major Disney licensee. If only it were the same block licensee, I’d go out and buy lottery tickets with the batch numbers of those lead-tainted blocks.