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Baby Einstein - Baby's First Sounds: Discoveries for Little Ears - family and children's DVD / television DVD / drama DVD review
BABY EINSTEIN - BABY'S FIRST SOUNDS: DISCOVERIES FOR LITTLE EARS Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 stars
  Studio: Walt Disney Video
DVD release: 11 March 2008   Runtime: 92 min. (1 disc)
Format: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, Spanish, French), "Fun with Phonemes"

The latest DVD in the wildly popular Baby Einstein educational series for infants and toddlers focuses on babies at 6 months old. Baby's First Sounds: Discoveries for Little Ears features basic sounds and coos that are the "baby steps" of language development. The colorful but not overwhelming video interacts with basic sounds such as "ah," "buh," "duh," "ee," and "mm." In the background, baby-style classical music plays in the Baby Einstein tradition.

The sounds are associated visually with simple words like "arm," "ball," and "monkey," while video of babies playing and cooing alone and with adults portray the sounds and basic words. The usual Baby Einstein puppet characters are part of the fun as well. Additionally, the sounds come in different languages; English, Spanish, Chinese, and French words are all alternately introduced. The running time for the main feature is 33 minutes.

I asked a couple of other parents to view this DVD with their children. The main concern all the parents had was that too many languages were being used in one short video. The parents believed it was confusing for themselves to have the different languages interspersed throughout the program, and although it's hard to know how a baby thinks, parents believed it would be confusing for the child as well. Perhaps having separate sections for each language would be better. The jacket of the DVD advertises that the features are "available in Spanish, French and English" making it appear that you can choose which language to play.

Another big concern was that the suggested age for this DVD is for a child of six months, which is just too young to have children start watching television. One parent said, "How much can a six-month-old really get from watching a video? Besides, the way a child really learns to talk is by interacting with their parents: watching their faces and hearing their voices."

However, one parent said that their baby really started cooing and making sounds while watching this DVD.

For the record, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under the age of two.

For the parents that I interviewed, they said that perhaps the DVD is really for parents to watch to get ideas for verbally interacting with their child. And of course, Disney/Baby Einstein recommends that parents and children do watch the DVD's together in a cooperative manor. This is not a "babysitter" that your prop your child in front of. The DVD does include a separate "Fun Times Together: aby's First Sounds" section that is meant exclusively for parents.

An August 2007 Time Magazine article discussing the issue of babies watching television said that studies have shown babies learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker talk on a video screen. Additionally, some researchers believe watching television may interfere with crucial early brain development.

Parents who are considering purchasing any Baby Einstein DVD, I know, ultimately have the child's best interests in mind. While this is a cute DVD for adults and children older than six months, parents might want to think twice about having a baby watch this video. DVDs should not become substitutes for fun interaction and play between parents and children.

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reviewed by Nancy Atkinson
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