Is it OK to play Baby Einstein DVDs for my 6-month-old? Can this kind of programming promote a child's development?
Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Baby Einstein DVDs might catch your baby's attention, but screen time isn't likely to promote his or her development. In fact, an infant can learn just as much — if not more — by interacting with you or other caregivers.
Research examining the specific effects of baby DVDs and other infant programming is limited. However, a 2010 study found no evidence that children ages 1 to 2 learned words highlighted in a Baby Einstein DVD. In contrast, research has shown that regularly reading to young children boosts language ability for both babies and toddlers.
Many pediatricians discourage screen time for children younger than age 2. Instead of relying on Baby Einstein DVDs, concentrate on proven ways to promote infant development — such as talking, playing, singing, smiling and reading to your baby. Even if your baby doesn't understand what you're saying or grasp the plot of a story, he or she will soak in your words and revel in your attention. These simple activities form the foundation for speech and thought.
Still, Baby Einstein DVDs aren't necessarily off-limits. If your family enjoys this kind of programming, make conscious decisions about how to use it. Turn it on only occasionally — and encourage interaction by watching the programming together.
April 12, 2014
See more Expert Answers
- Mendelsohn AL, et al. Infant television and video exposure associated with limited parent-child verbal interactions in low socioeconomic status households. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2008;162:411.
- Chonchaiya W, et al. Television viewing associates with delayed language development. Acta Paediatrica. 2008;97:977.
- Zimmerman FJ, et al. Associations between media viewing and language development in children under age 2 years. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2007;151:364.
- Armbruster BB, et al. A child becomes a reader: Birth through preschool. The National Institute for Literacy. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/Pages/pubs_details.aspx?pubs_id=261. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Zimmerman FJ, et al. Television and DVD/video viewing in children younger than 2 years. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161:473.
- Council on Communications and Media. Media use by children younger than 2 years. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy. http://aappolicy.aappublications.org. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Richert RA, et al. Word learning from baby videos. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2010;164:432.