When my first child was about seven months old, I slipped in that first magical DVD into our DVD player. Hesitant to expose my precious bundle of joy to the ole picture box, but in desperate need a few minutes to myself, I figured anything with the name “Einstein” in the title could not be that bad.
Besides, did I mention that I needed a few minutes to myself?
I watched as my child sat mesmerized by a few simple puppets and some basic toys presented in front of what appeared to be a black sheet. He loved the music, he squealed at the dragon and he was transfixed by the images before his baby blue eyes.
I silently blessed Julie Aigner-Clark and her seemingly ingenious idea.
When we had small children in our home, Baby Einstein products were a staple item. Both of our children watched the DVDs on occasion and, dare I say, likely learned a thing or two from them. (Hey, we live in the ‘burbs. We do not often encounter an animal from the jungle on our daily excursions). Although I think that my children might have gained something from viewing such “educational” videos, I did not plop them in front of said movies in hopes of increasing their IQ scores by a few points.
Allow me to be honest and say I did it merely for a guilt-free moment of peace.
The Baby Einstein Company has made their presence known in the baby and toddler product world, boasting a variety of items from DVDs to books to baby equipment. All bear the company’s trademark symbol of a seemingly-intelligent, spiked-hair little boy wearing glasses.
Although a bold claim was never made by Disney or the Baby Einstein Company (which is no longer owned or managed by Julie Aigner-Clark) that their materials would indeed make a child more intelligent should she watch, play, or read from said products, many consumers indeed believed that such materials would enhance their child’s intelligence. The millions of dollars generated through the sale of Baby Einstein products proved that parents were on board with the seemingly-educational materials, which included flashcards for babies and DVDs that infants could view in foreign languages.
However, not everyone has been as enamored with the Baby Einstein brand. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has actively fought against the promotion of Baby Einstein DVDs in the home, siting that the Baby Einstein Company and Disney (along with other similar companies) were falsely advertising their products as being an educational tool for babies, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two should not watch television at all (Baby Einstein videos are for children ages 6 months and up). Things heated up between Disney/ The Baby Einstein Company and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. The Federal Trade Commission was eventually brought into the battle, who closed the complaint against Disney without pursing any real action other than suggesting that certain testimonials and statements on the Baby Einstein website be modified to ensure no claims were being made about their materials enhancing a child’s intelligence.
The battle waged on, prompting Disney to offer a full refund (up to $15.99) to anyone who has purchased a Baby Einstein video in the past five years (refund is only good for up to four DVDs). Calling it the “Baby Einstein DVD Upgrade/ Money-back Guarantee”, Disney and The Baby Einstein Company are hoping to reassure parents that they are confident in their products and are willing to provide a variety of refunds or monetary compensations to those consumers who are not satisfied or who misunderstood the nature of these products.
My children have moved past their Baby Einstein DVDs, preferring the “mature” storylines of Dora and Deigo over simple dancing puppets. Our collection of these videos are tucked away should we make the decision to have a third child and I once again need a few moments of peace from a sweet little baby.
Leave a comment and let BurbMom know how you feel about this Baby Einstein refund. Do you plan on sending in your DVDs or are you going to hold onto them?