Play knowledge is power and the Baby Einstein refund

Do you have a Baby Einstein DVD?

On Friday I received a newsletter from the
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, with the title ,
“Another CCFC Victory: Disney Offers Refund on Baby Einstein Videos”

We’ve got great news. CCFC’s ongoing campaign to stop the false and deceptive marketing of baby videos has had a stunning success. We’ve persuaded the Walt Disney Company to offer a full refund to anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the last five years. The refund is only available for a limited time..

I was happy to see the news spread fast and soon enough mothers were talking about the refund on forums. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the news was muted.

….What did they expect?… How do they know the kid isn’t brainier now after watching it?..

Also honest responses of working mothers or SAHMs that needed the time

….love how they will just zone out in front and I can get the dinner done. 20 minutes and we’re all happy.

…. there are a few I don’t like that scared my son should I send it back and spend the money on something else….I’m torn.

I was introduced to the Einstein DVDs with my first baby in 2003. It was new and the explosion of education DVDs including Little Leap and Leapad were the ‘must have’ item for new mothers that Christmas time.

I had friends and family talking about how great modern technology is and how they were glad to have something educational and helpful while they did something ( electronic babysitter) or to sit with their baby ( because they weren’t sure what to do with a baby).

It didn’t sit well with me. But what did I know? With just a gut feeling and overwhelmed by motherhood in a foreign country I didn’t have the energy or enough confidence to act on my feelings. We had a few DVDs.

I was beginning to have rumblings about appropriate play activities because at the time many of the mothers I had met used the DVDs as an electronic babysitter a lot. When you’re away from family and you only have your peers you make the best decisions you can with what you have available.

We all didn’t have great Internet access and TV was without commercials. I know amazing now. AFN gave us shows from the states but no commercials apart from public service commercials.

It’s no excuse but sometimes you drifted into doing things or just not questioning enough. There were support groups but the focus was to get us out of the house and meeting each other, which was a really big help. I can’t remember really the aim to educate us on appropriate play. Just like we’re told don’t smoke or drink responsibly, the advice was of no real practical benefit. How much is responsible and how does that fit with me?
My feelings about the Einstein DVDs became stronger once I started listening to Parent’s Journal. After coming out of my sleep deprived state I could think more clearly and learn more about the importance of play. I could find kindred spirits online and find out how to play with my baby; how to entertain at times and more importantly how to engage appropriately.

The zombie like trance the babies had, worked well for many parents because they needed their children to sit and stay while they did normal things. I just didn’t like that look.

So my household was a lot more chaotic. My baby had toys and natural objects around him on a rug nearby. It was harder but it was something I wanted to do for him.
Once the MO came along I had no doubt that we weren’t going to watch them and I would try to keep him from TV until after 2. I was now familiar with the AAP recommendations; I had started reading about brain development; and started connecting with likeminded mums online.
I didn’t have to hide the fact we didn’t watch TV with the kids or that we didn’t use Einstein for any purpose. If we were in places where the TV was we tried to keep the kids away but didn’t fuss too much about it. So the MO did get to see Einstein at other peoples houses. We want to be sociable. Our house. No.

Where are they now?

We have them still. Taking up space in the DVD collection. LO hasn’t seen them and MO doesn’t watch them.

Social pressure is a hard thing. Peer pressure to conform. Many times I was told I was denying my kids valuable educational experiences and that hurts to hear. Even when you know better you wonder.

I tell you this story because I feel it’s easy to fall into doing things without really knowing why or reflecting on the consequences. Many of the moms on forums did know and fully admit it was for electronic babysitting to get A done and A only lasted 20 minutes. A got done and we’re all happy. They played and did other things with their children. In other words they used it for a purpose. Life is busy. Find a way. It fills a need.

I saw and see a lot of people like me, how I was, and I do think it’s common who just didn’t know enough about play to be a little more cautious of the claims. Didn’t have a good place or know a good place to get reputable play information. If it’s good for 20 minutes then on repeat must be better.

The good thing about this publicity is to call attention to marketing and not believing the hype. I guess some of us are better at deciphering than others.

I think sleep deprived new mums are particularly influenced and well meaning family and friends contribute.

Will I be turning in our DVDs- no we’ll use them as they get older. We’ll sit with them and pause the DVDs and talk about what we see. We now have a wider range of activities and things we do . Our lifestyle and family outlook means we can do this. Not everyone can, I know.

For me the lesson here is to know your family play ideals. What is acceptable and what is desirable in your home?

It is possible to not use Einstein DVDs as a babysitter but it does require you to be a lot more creative. It’s not always possible and you have to decide for your family what that means you do next.

Secondly, it is easy to be swept along with parenting or play ideas without giving much thought to it.

  1. Know your mind
  2. Hold a view.
  3. Accept and reject ideals without regret and with confidence.
  4. Be that cheerleader for your friends. We don’t have to always agree or do the same thing but we can encourage each other and share our knowledge.

Resources

If you’ve purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the past five years, click here to learn how to get your refund.

Interested in proactively building your play knowledge about the value of baby DVDs, try here as a good starting point.

Would love to hear your stories about Baby Einstein DVDs?What will you do with your Einstein DVDs? Anyone returning? keeping? modifying their usage?

What do you do instead of using DVDs? or if you don’t use DVDs that much what are your alternatives?

Please share………

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Comments

  1. Jennifer V. says:

    Like you, I was a new mom. My pediatrician told me to buy the videos. I asked him “Isn’t TV bad for babies?” He told me “No, it’s good for helping their eyes to learn how to focus, and these videos have such great visuals for them.” I felt like I would be a bad mom if I DIDN’T buy them.

    We will be returning the videos for a full refund. While the kids (now older) enjoy the music and visuals, we will use the refund money (about $64!) to buy other educational toys. I think about how many great new crafts, books, puzzles, and toys I can get at yard sales for $64, and there’s no question what would be the best use for that money (for our family).

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Motherhood is all about learning, refining, accepting, rejecting and sometimes just letting go.
      That’s a good amount of money to be able to redirect.

  2. @playactivities You are kidding me about Baby Einstein! Never heard about that-have a few I’d love to get rid of. My kids didn’t like them!

    • @MommyCast Seems like just yesterday everyone was talking about the Baby Einstein refund. But it was over a year ago now.

      • @playactivities haha! where in the world have i been? BLAST! hate that i missed it, but glad my kids were smarter than the marketing! 😉

  3. @playactivities You are kidding me about Baby Einstein! Never heard about that-have a few I’d love to get rid of. My kids didn’t like them!

    • @MommyCast Seems like just yesterday everyone was talking about the Baby Einstein refund. But it was over a year ago now.

      • @playactivities haha! where in the world have i been? BLAST! hate that i missed it, but glad my kids were smarter than the marketing! 😉

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  2. […] shared our Baby Einstein story earlier this week and left saying, ..It is possible to not use Einstein DVDs as a babysitter but it […]

  3. […] play around me was of the electronic kind heavy with passivity. This was the new shiny toy for […]


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