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Why Videos Don’t Educate Infants

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Did you see the recent news regarding The Baby Einstein video series? It seems that there was a lawsuit regarding advertising surrounding Baby Einstein, and claims that “the videos can educate infants”.

Now I must admit that I have only seen the Baby Einstein series while I am at the office and parents bring in their portable DVD players and are showing the videos to their children while they wait. The children are typically between the ages of about nine months to three years. Children do seem to be mesmerized by the videos, but I must say, they didn’t appear to be especially educational, just lots of repetition and colors. But what do I know; I always teased the parent’s that I was probably just envious that I didn’t make the videos.

But I do believe that Disney has done the right thing by admitting that you can’t educate infants through a video, and are now going to refund the price of the DVD. They certainly may be entertaining, but as far as making an infant and child smarter, there is certainly no evidence to substantiate that. Parents are the key to educating their children and not TV or videos.

How do you educate an infant and young child? It is once again back to the basics. The most important activity you can do with an infant and child is to talk to them. Babies love to hear their parent’s voices. Parents ask me what they should talk about; an infant doesn’t care. Babies just need to hear voices talking to them about anything:  sports, news, what the dog is doing, the weather, you name it, they love to hear language. Babies also need interactive play, with simple toys like rattles, blocks, and books. It doesn’t have to be fancy or have batteries to be worthwhile for your child.

Think about simple games like “peek a boo” and “how big is the baby.” What about singing songs and laughing with your baby, it doesn’t get better than that! There are more games to play with your child such as “where are your eyes?” and “where’s Mommy’s nose? “ and “pat a cake”. All of these help a baby reach their developmental milestones.

The time spent interacting with your baby is far more valuable than any time they may spend in front of a video player. Baby Einstein may be entertainment, but parents are the real teachers, and Disney seems to agree.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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