Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky has a lot to say about so—zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Our reviews of Baby Einstein: Baby Beethoven (published November 6th, 2008), Baby Einstein: Baby's First Sounds (published April 30th, 2008), Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes (published August 8th, 2007), Baby Einstein: My First Signs (published April 4th, 2007), and Baby Einstein: Numbers Nursery (published August 12th, 2004) are also available.
"To sleep, perchance to dream…"—Hamlet
Yes, I have read about the latest studies, the ones that suggest exposure to educational DVDs like the Baby Einstein series inhibits child language development. And I believe them. After all, I have been cautioning for years now, through this entire series of reviews, not to treat these DVDs as babysitters. My daughter is nearing five and has watched Baby Einstein for much of that time. But we also read with her and teach her—and as a result she reads right now at a third-grade level. She has graduated from Baby Einstein to chapter books, and now my son has inherited her educational DVDs.
Honestly, we don't screen the Baby Einstein discs very often, since at the age of two, he has moved beyond them like his sister did. So I have not really been keeping up with the new releases, beyond what I watch for you, my loyal readers of DVD Verdict. So I was a little surprised when I received Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time. The music CD collection has included lullaby music since Julie Clark ran the company free of Disney oversight, before Little Einsteins and Einstein Pals (their new toddler series—coming soon to shelves at your local Target and Wal-Mart). And several of the older DVDs (Baby Bach in particular) were always good for winding down the evening, if played in the background while getting ready for bed. So Lullaby Time is probably redundant, if you already have some of those older discs in your collection.
While my son enjoyed pointing out the things on screen ("Bubbles!," "Fish!") and announcing their names with the enthusiasm of Mr. Roarke's little sidekick welcoming the latest plane, there was nothing really novel here for him. It was just another day on Fantasy Island.Other recent installments in the series (My First Signs, for example) can be used to teach new things. Lullaby Time is designed to be entirely passive. At a point when criticism of this series seems to hinge precisely on the passivity of its diaper-age audience, is this really a good move on Disney's part?
Since my son and I watched this at 10 a.m., rather than bedtime, I did not allow this to be a passive experience at all. We practiced naming colors and shapes, and he learned a few new words (clock, yawn). When Julie Clark read a goodnight story in the middle of the program, he was interested briefly. But it isn't how Mommy and Daddy read a book, where he gets to point out things he knows and turn the pages himself.
Lullaby Time is slickly produced, although it tends to repeat footage more than other programs in the series. Extras include additional puppet segments, a separate reading of the "goodnight book" mentioned earlier, and some serene nature footage.
In the final scenes of the disc, as the sheep puppet switched off the light and we were treated to shots of sleeping babies, my son said "night-night" to them. In a way, I suppose he may also be saying night-night to Baby Einstein. The series has served my kids well, but they have outgrown it and can move on. As the credits rolled, he grabbed his bead-chaser in one hand, a plastic ball in the other, and shoved them both in my lap so I could play with him.
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