We moms are saddled with so much responsibility, and so much guilt.
If we don’t provide our kids with every single opportunity to be their best, we’ve failed them. Disingenuous entrepreneurs know this, and have targeted the most vulnerable among us: moms-to-be, and moms of infants.
The “baby genius” industry exploits a mother’s insecurities of not providing her offspring with every intellectual advantage possible. For years, there’s been a push on early literacy. But not the ideal kind: talking to your infant, reading to her, telling her stories—all natural bonding activities that help babies and young children with age-appropriate developmental skills. The Baby Einstein videos and Your Child Can Read products push word recognition before the other literacy milestones are attained. It is not reading, and a new study published March 6 in the Journal of Educational Psychology confirms that.
But what about music?
Many studies have shown how music—typically classical—can help children excel at math. So what’s a wily entrepreneur to do? Declare that we can’t wait until our children are in preschool, or heck, even newborns in the nursery, to start exposing them to classical tunes. No. If we want to give our children every intellectual advantage possible, we must get those special, pricey gadgets that attach to a mom’s belly so that her developing baby can hear music while in the womb. Some products encourage playing classical music, others offer specific drum-like beats, at a special rhythm; the natural sounds of a mom’s womb just aren’t the right sounds, the optimal sounds for nurturing the baby’s developing mathematical mind.
I get it. When I was unable to breastfeed my first child, I switched to formula, but for days weeks years, I felt guilty that I had lowering his IQ by three points (I had read all those studies pointing out precisely how many points higher a breast-fed baby’s IQ was vs. a formula-fed infant’s). As soon as a formula with the DHA & ARA hit the market, promising the same brain-supporting fatty acids found in breast milk, I coughed up the extra money for it.
If ‘fetus buds’ had been around when I was pregnant, I like to think I’d have steered clear of them. But when my daughter seemed slow to start speaking, a neighbor lent me some Baby Einstein videos, which I did play a few times until I decided they weren’t doing a thing other than teaching her to stare at the TV.
Those who market products for the yet-to-be-born benefit from this proverb twist: A new mom and her money are soon parted. Here’s hoping that the Journal of Educational Psychology and similar publications continue to expose all “baby genius”-type products for what they are: snake oil.