The baby brain-drain

DVDs that claim to make babies brighter are not only ineffectual, they take away vital development time with loving care-givers

A few years ago I was asked to help to launch Baby Einstein in this country. I was put off by the name – images of overzealous parents hot-housing their small children in the vain hope of growing their IQs – and became more dubious when I looked at the content, which was mainly coloured patterns and music reminiscent of Fantasia, but nowhere near as attractive. I couldn’t see what this was doing for babies, so I declined.

There are now a number of similar ranges, many having names that contain the same questionable promise – Brainy Baby, Baby Bright, which claims a scientific approach, and Baby IQ which has harnessed no less a mentor than the London Symphony Orchestra. Most of these titles consist of live action or simple animation and show bright patterns, other babies and basic scenes involving animals, nature, abstracts etc.

Overall, the content of these DVDs promotes passive viewing by a baby rather than using the DVD platform as an opportunity for interactive play with a parent or carer. The majority suggest that the baby will benefit intellectually from absorbing the visual and aural content. I’m aware of no credible scientific data to back up these claims and there’s no supporting material to help to guide or reassure parents. In short, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that these are products with no real benefit to babies and give parents a false notion that watching television can improve a child’s intelligence.

All parents have a fervent desire to ensure that their children are given thebest possible chance to realise their full potential. Most parents, however, are unaware that babies start to develop their brain-power from the moment that they are born. They’re wired to communicate and, moments after birth, will poke out their tongues at you if you talk animatedly while making eye-contact. They’re already developing learning skills, memory and understanding.

In their first year, babies make half a million brain connections a second. That’s why their brains triple in weight in the first 12 months.

Source - Times