Baby Mozart

Baby Einstein
Baby Einstein Company/Walt Disney
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It is commonly believed today that Mozart's music is so beautiful and well-ordered that it can have a beneficial effect on the brain's development in children who listen to it during their developing years. Using this theory, the Baby Einstein company have made an audio and video package meant to capitalize on these ideas. The audio CD takes some of the most famous (and most beautiful) compositions of Mozart and performs them with alternate instruments (small bells and/or a xylophone I believe) to make them more "baby-friendly." I didn't really care for this version of music. (In a way it seems to be a lesser version of the real songs, in a similar way to how elevator music compares to the original songs). I've found that my children, even at a young age, really enjoy fine recordings of the "real thing". Some would probably find the idea somewhat condescending toward children (especially considering the theories of Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason) and there really isn't a lot to recommend this over some more straightforward Mozart recordings.

More annoying than the CD, however, is the video. The video takes the same watered-down music and combines it with images of moving toys that make their way across the screen. (This goes on for about half an hour, I believe. I haven't been able to sit through the whole thing.) The end of the video provides information on where to buy the toys. The toys aren't particularly beautiful or educational - just rolling toy animals, jack in the boxes, etc. I can't deny that my younger children enjoyed watching the video, but children like a lot of things that aren't necessarily all that great for them. I'd much rather have my children playing with pots and pans in the kitchen than be mesmerized by videos of toys and Mozartish music. I also object to the idea that this company charges money for what seems to be little more than a fancy toy catalog.

Additional information (added September 2007):

TIME Magazine article on studies involving "educational" videos for babies
Disney demands retraction of Baby Einstein study
Are "Educational" Baby Videos a Scam?

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