Can Baby Einstein videos and similar programming promote a child's development?

Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

Programming such as Baby Einstein videos might catch your child's attention, but children younger than age 2 are more likely to learn and remember information from a live presentation than they are from a video.

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.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 18 to 24 months. 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, as well as emotional health.

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.

Nov. 22, 2016