Will watching “Baby Einstein” DVDs make your kid smarter? Show Notes

Monday, May 14, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Will Baby Einstein DVDs help your kid to be smarter? 

Many parents purchase educational DVDs for their infants and toddlers, thinking that they will put their child on the fast-track to academic success. But research shows that’s not actually the case. 

In fact, although the DVD’s might catch your baby’s attention, time spent in front of a screen isn’t likely to promote his development. An infant can learn just as much — if not more — by interacting with you or other caregivers.

According to Dr. Jay Hoecker with the Mayo Clinic, research examining the specific effects of baby DVDs and other infant programming is limited. 

In one study, children ages 8 months to 16 months who were exposed to baby DVDs actually scored LOWER on a language development test than babies who had no screen time.

Another study of toddlers showed that turning on the television reduced verbal interaction between parents and children — which may explain the delayed language development.

And finally, there is no evidence that 1-2 year olds learn words highlighted Baby Einstein DVDs. However, research has consistently shown that regularly reading to young children boosts language ability for both babies and toddlers.

Many pediatricians discourage screen time for children younger than age two. Dr. Hoecker says that rather than relying on Baby Einstein DVDs, parents should concentrate on proven ways to promote infant development — such as talking, playing, singing and reading to your baby.

Still, Baby Einstein DVDs aren't necessarily off-limits. You simply need to make conscious decisions about how to use it. Only allow your child to watch them occasionally — and encourage interaction by watching them together.  I'm Bill Maier for WBCL.

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