The ABCs of developmental DVDs

By Carrie Johnson • Published: May 5th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Parents certainly want to give their children every advantage when it comes to their development. This has led to a boom in videos aimed at helping kids learn. From Baby Einstein to Baby Wordsworth to Baby Mozart… all of these DVDs promise to turn young children into budding scholars.

The problem is, there is no proof educational videos of this sort actually work. In fact, a new study suggests these types of DVDs have no effect at all on a baby’s development.

To study this, researchers at the University of California at Riverside divided a group of ninety-six infants and their parents into two groups. One was asked to watch a Baby Wordsworth DVD while the other served as a control group. The researchers then carefully tracked how many of the target words the babies were able to learn over a six-week period.

The words were simple… ball, table, fridge, chair. Each of the infants was evaluated four times over the course of the study. And while all the babies added words to their vocabularies, there was no difference between the control group and those who watched the Baby Wordsworth videos.

Why weren’t the DVDs more effective? Scientists point to a couple of different factors. First, they said, the rapidly moving images may overstimulate an infant’s brain. Secondly, the videos may replace precious time that could be spent with a parent. According to the researchers, babies learned best through direct communication with a parent.

So these experts recommend you save your money and turn off the television. Chances are it will be better for your baby in the long run.