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>So Baby Einstein is actually bad for babies? While this study will probably only provoke more rounds of the coffee-hurts-you-coffee-helps-you kinds of further studies, I’d love to let the Freakonomics guys loose on this one. There are so many other correlations: if the Baby Einstein videos don’t do what they promise, it could be because the parents don’t use them as instructed (be warned, that link plays plastic classical music over and over again, trying to make you as smart as El Divo) or because dumb parents who think TV is good for babies pass their dumb genes on to their children (harsh, but that’s Freakonomics for ya). Always nice to see Disney get a little grief, though.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >I’m no Baby Einstein fan, but that article is pathetic! Since when is vocabulary the sole indicator of intelligence? Did the study measure the infants’ spatial awareness or anything else the videos purport to improve?

  2. >Yes! I vote for the dumb parents –> TV is thought to be good for you –> dumb children theory.

    That’s how it looks to play out in my library, anyway. The parents who come in and demand (never request, always demand) the Baby Einstein DVDs are almost never the ones who read to their children or spend time with thier kids coloring or doing puzzles.

    The parents who demand the Baby Einstein DVDs are, in my experience, much more often the ones who rush in, shout at their children, shout at the staff, grab the DVDs from the spinner rack, and rush out (grumbling that we never have enough Baby Einstein DVDs.)

    The nice parents, the ones who read to their children and spend time doing puzzles with them, the ones who speak respectfully to the staff, are much more likely to take out…

    Um. Okay, I don’t know, but I’m going to observe and see what they’re taking. (Which DVDs, I mean. I already know they’re taking books galore.)

  3. literaticat says:

    >i wonder how many people will read that article and take away: “BABYS SHOULD WATCH AMERICAN IDOL”

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >Cheryl, that sounds like MEAN parents versus NICE parents! Which kind of goes along with the whole Baby Einstein premise, raising your child to have a competitive advantage, but being too competitive yourself to actually want to spend time with your kids.

  5. Editorial Anonymous says:

    >Agreed. Or a lot of grief.

  6. Brian Floca says:

    >I suppose the hope is that if the kid spends enough time propped before the tube then later in life he’ll end up with a middling job at, say, a patent office. Not a guaranteed route to genius, but it’s something.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >Is there really no room at all for parents who read to their kids AND show them (limited) Baby Einsteins?

    And play games, do Play-Doh with them, and take them to the playground (the kids, not the videos)?

    Guilty as charged!

  8. >DF – I’m also guilty of using the Baby Einstein series — Baby Mozart in particular — along with all the other things you mention. But I never thought the videos actually were teaching my babies anything. Baby Mozart just had the awesome effect of spellbinding them for a little bit when I needed a sanity break.

    Believing that sitting your infant in front of a looping video of synthesized classical music and puppets is teaching and nurturing your child is the problem, I believe. Not the use of the videos.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >The Am. Acad. of Peds. says no TV before age two. That makes Baby Einstein and Teletubbies evil because under two is their core market. But isn’t it a little like taking “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” so seriously that you actually bake (and eat) those gawdawful sugar-free muffins? If the only way to get a shower before noon is to pop in Baby Einstein, then chat baby up the rest of the day to cover the lost vocabulary. –m

  10. Andy Laties says:

    >I thought that Einstein himself didn’t start talking until he was four years old: this is one of those oft-cited markers of his early exceptionalism. (Maybe I made that up?) So therefore if Baby Einstein videos inhibit speech development they’re just doing their job.

    My question is whether the world can actually handle any more Einstein’s since the theories of the original one did after all lead to such things as nuclear weapons. (As Bronowski observed, human ethical development doesn’t keep pace with human scientific knowledge.)

    I would much prefer Baby Buddha videos.

  11. Andy Laties says:

    >Or Baby Gandhi!

  12. >Baby Mother Theresa!

  13. >And then there’s always Baby Baby Jesus, which sounds too much like a de-wop song.

  14. Andy Laties says:

    >Actually I don’t believe that Einstead exactly pulled down the big bucks, and certainly the parents in question must have some sort of financial success in mind for their child. Really they want to be rearing some sort of Science Nerd who makes a lot of money right? So: Baby Bill Gates videos might be a good profit opportunity?

  15. Andy Laties says:

    >Baby Edison.

  16. Roger Sutton says:

    >Jeanne, you made my day with “Baby Baby Jesus.” Thanks!

  17. Patrick Wellman says:

    >It is unfortunate that the television has come to play such a negative role in our children’s life. Yet I recall the words of my step-father when he referred to the television as “The Bube Tube”. It should now be called “The baby-sitter”. However, a television is like the baby-sitter who allows the children to water the indoor plants with a garden hose. Choosing a baby-sitter with the credentials of a Charles Manson and then blaiming the sitter for your child’s bad behavior is like putting a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger to see if it will work. Parents need to take responsability for what their children watch and then they should watch far less of it. A child who is read to is ten times more likely to do well in school and a hundred times more likely to succeed in life.

    In Greenland, when television was non-existant (less than ten years ago) people read, families had book night in, and their children thrived.

    Books are the foundation of a solid education. It is up to parents to lay down the bricks.

    Patrick Wellman

  18. Saipan Writer says:

    >Enjoyed the post, love the comments. Always something to think about. And laugh!

    Now just as long as we don’t end up with Baby Paris Hilton.

  19. Anonymous says:

    >I read the baby Jesus comment and here we are back at those Christmas books again…

    I did laugh at the Baby Paris Hilton one-Too! I think she really has a kid book or two on the way. Oh, No that’s Cheech Marin! (My Mistake again!)

  20. rindawriter says:

    >Please no more Baby, Baby Jesus videos. Or big ones either. There are far too many of those out there already. I’m serious about that. And it’s embarrassing to be a Christian and know such things actually exist.

    With the profits thereof filling the pockets of rich Christians.

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