"Great minds start little"
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, United States|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Company|
Baby Einstein is a line of multimedia products and toys that specialize in interactive activities for preschoolers below 4 years of age. These products are currently made by a division of the Walt Disney Company.
The videos have been described as "crack for babies", but research shows that they do not necessarily increase youngsters' vocabularies, which led Disney to offer refunds to parents whose children did not improve.
The Baby Einstein Company was founded in 1997 by former teacher and stay-at-home mom Julie Aigner-Clark at her home in suburban Alpharetta, Georgia, as I Think I Can Productions. Aigner-Clark and her husband invested $18,000 of their savings to produce the initial product, a VHS they named Baby Einstein and later sold as Language Nursery.
The original video shows a variety of toys and visuals interspersed with music, stories, numbers, and words of many languages. Eventually, the video was marketed across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Other videos followed, some featuring the Clarks' two daughters, as well as other children. All videos feature toys by Ambi, Brio, Folkmanis, Dakin, Chimes, Battat, Tomy, Legends, and Lore, among others.
It became a multi-million dollar franchise; its revenue grew from $1 million in 1998 to $25 million in 2001. In January 1998 Aigner-Clark renamed the company the Baby Einstein Companay, and in February 2000 sold a 20% stake in the company to Artisan Entertainment and Family Home Entertainment, while selling the rest to The Walt Disney Company in November 2001.
As a Disney subsidiary, production budgets increased and the concept was expanded; it also developed a line of educational toys. In 2005, it inspired a Disney Junior animated television series called Little Einsteins. Named after Albert Einstein, the company had to pay substantial royalties to Corbis, which compensates the Einstein estate, making him one of the top five earning dead celebrities.
In 2009, the brand was estimated to be nearly $400 million based on revenues. Julie was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" and won various awards, and one in three U.S. households with babies were found to own at least one Baby Einstein product. It received positive media and Aigner-Clark appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and USA Today, among others. President George W. Bush mentioned the Baby Einstein Company in his 2007 State of the Union address, which Aigner-Clark was invited to attend.
The final Baby Einstein video, called "World Animal Adventure", was released on September 29, 2009. Little Einsteins stopped production on December 22, 2009.
Julie Aigner-Clark no longer owns or operates the company but has been involved in other startups including the Safe Side, JoyBox, and the Soft Skin Company.
In May 2006, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the Baby Einstein Company and similar companies for false advertising. The CCFC alleged false advertising based on an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two should be discouraged from watching television. It also cited studies showing that only 6% of parents were aware of that recommendation, whereas 49% thought educational videos were very important in children's intellectual development.
In December 2007, the FTC closed the complaint, noting that some of the CCFC’s claims did not raise issues under the FTC’s substantiation rules. The FTC also considered the redesign of the Baby Einstein website, which removed certain product testimonials and product descriptions, as well as the company's promise to make sure that advertising claims about products' educational and developmental value would be properly substantiated. However, the websites of Baby Einstein in languages other than English are not all modified in the same way. For example, its official Chinese website still contains the product effect statement as "For example, the Baby Van Gogh released by us can initiate your baby's interest and recognition of colors."
A 2010 study published in Psychological Science demonstrated that children who viewed the videos regularly for one month, with or without their parents, "showed no greater understanding of words from the program than kids who never saw it". On the other hand, children who were taught by their parents improved the most; researchers speculated that this was probably because children learn best "through meaningful gestures and interactive communication with parents". In response to these new findings, Disney offered refunds to parents whose children did not see improvement, even though Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, demanded a retraction (of the press release) when a similarly unsupportive study was announced in 2007.
The 2007 study, based on telephone interviews with parents, had been published in the Journal of Pediatrics and resulted in a lawsuit by the company's founders due to widespread negative media coverage stemming from the article. The press release announcing the study explained that for each hour spent watching baby DVDs/videos, infants understood on average six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. The University of Washington researchers Frederick Zimmerman, Dimitri Christakis, and Andrew Meltzoff had claimed that, among infants aged 8 to 16 months, exposure to "baby DVDs/videos" such as "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" was strongly associated with lower scores on a Communicative Development Inventory, a standard language development test. The Baby Einstein Company expressed "serious concerns about the many contradictions" in the study. Although University of Washington President Mark Emmert rejected Disney's demand, in 2010 the university settled with the founders, paying out nearly $200,000 in back legal fees.
In March 2008, the Journal of Pediatrics released a study by Harvard University and the Boston Children's Hospital's Center on Media and Child Health showing that television viewing is, “neither beneficial nor deleterious to child cognitive and language abilities” for children under 2, in a study that examined all television rather than just education DVDs for babies. In January 2010, the founders requested that a judge order the University of Washington to release records for the 2007 study, saying, “Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies". In 2013 the original dataset was reanalyzed by independent scholars who concluded that it was safest to suggest that baby videos had minimal impact on language development and that linking baby videos to decreased language development was not well supported by the data.
- Baby Einstein - Language Nursery (1998)
- Baby Mozart - Music Festival (1998)
- Baby Bach - Musical Adventure (1999)
- Baby Shakespeare - World of Poetry (2000)
- Baby Dolittle - Neighborhood Animals (2001)
- Baby Beethoven - Symphony of Fun (2002)
- Baby Dolittle - World Animals (2002)
- Baby Newton - All About Shapes (2002)
- Baby Einstein - Numbers Nursery (2003)* Baby Van Gogh - World of Colors (2002)
- Baby Galileo - Discovering the Sky (2003)
- Baby Neptune - Discovering Water (2003)
- Numbers Nursery (2003)
- Baby Da Vinci - From Head to Toe (2004)
- Baby MacDonald - A Day On The Farm (2004)
- Baby Noah - Animal Expedition (2004)
- Baby Santa's Music Box (2004)
- Baby Monet - Discovering the Seasons (2005)
- Baby Wordsworth - First Words - Around the House (2005)
- Meet the Orchestra - First Instruments (2005)
- On the Go - Riding, Sailing and Soaring (2005)
- Baby's Favorite Places - First Words - Around Town (2006)
- Baby's First Moves (2006)
- Discovering Shapes (2007)
- Lullaby Time (2007)
- My First Signs (2007)
- Baby Beethoven (2008)
- Baby Mozart - Music Festival (2008)
- Baby Neptune - Discovering Water (2009)
- Baby Noah - Animal Expedition (2009)
- Baby's First Sounds: Discoveries for Little Ears (2008)
- My First Signs (2009)
- World Animal Adventure (2009)
- World Music (2009)
- Baby Beethoven (2010)
- Baby Mozart (2010)
- Animals Around Me (2010)
- Wild Animal Safari (2010)
- World of Colors (2010)
- World of Words (2010)
- World of Rhythm (2011)
- Neptune's Oceans (2011)
- Baby Lullaby (2011)
- Little Einsteins (2005-2009)
- Bruce Bower (September 3, 2010). "DVDs don’t turn toddlers into vocabulary Einsteins". ScienceNews.
- Eric Hubler (March 12, 1999). "Baby videos spell big money Mom turns 'Einstein' into million-dollar enterprise". Denver Post.
- Daisy Whitney (May 30, 2001). "Nurturing a 'Baby' boom Littleton woman's line of videos, CDs a hit with children". Denver Post.
- "Artisan Entertainment Acquires Rights to Distribute Branded Developmental Series From The Baby Einstein Company". Business Wire. February 10, 2000.
- "Cobain is the new Elvis (Most earning dead celebrities)". Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-10-25. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
- "Baby Einstein & Brainy Baby FTC Complaint", Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website, retrieved Dec. 15, 2008
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education (February 2001). "Children, Adolescents, and Television (policy statement)". Pediatrics 107 (2): 423–426. doi:10.1542/peds.107.2.423. PMID 11158483.
- Josh Golin (January 2007). "Putting the Book Back in Book Fair". Mothering (magazine). Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- Michelle M. Garrison and Dimitri A. Christakis. "New Report on Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers". Kaiser Family Foundation. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- "Federal Trade Commission Closing Letter" to counsel for the Baby Einstein Company, December 5, 2007, retrieved July 9, 2008
- "产品介绍 ("Product Introduction")". Retrieved 2008-08-22. ("例如我们已经发行的《小小梵高－色彩的世界》影片DVD，就能启发宝宝们对颜色的兴趣和认识。" ("For example, the Baby Van Gogh released by us can initiate your baby's interest and recognition of colors."))
- Maia Szalavitz (September 7, 2010). "‘Like Crack for Babies': Kids Love Baby Einstein, But They Don’t Learn From It". Time.
- Tamar Lewin, "No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund", New York Times, October 23, 2009
- Robert A. Iger (August 13, 2007). "The Walt Disney Company demands retraction from the University of Washington for misleading press release" (PDF). Baby Einstein press release.
- Meg Marco (2007-08-13). "Walt Disney Demands Retraction From University of Washington Over Baby Einstein Video Press Release". The Consumerist. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- Pamela Paul (2006-01-08). "Want a Brainier Baby? Loading up on tapes, games and videos may not be a smart move" (PDF). Time. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- Roxanne Khamsi (2007-08-07). "Educational DVDs 'slow infant learning'". New Scientist.
- Joel Schwartz (August 7, 2007). "Baby DVDs, videos may hinder, not help, infants' language development". University of Washington press release.
- Frederick J. Zimmerman, Dimitri A. Christakis, and Andrew N. Meltzoff (2007-08-07). "Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children under Age 2 Years" (PDF). Journal of Pediatrics 151 (4): 364–8. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.04.071. PMID 17889070.
- Theresa Marchetta (2007-08-08). "Study Targets Infant Videos Finds Too Much TV, Too Few Words". The Denver Channel. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- "UW President rejects Disney complaints". University of Washington press release. 2007-08-16.
- "TV's Not the Big Bad Wolf". The Washington Post. March 2009.
- Lewin, Tamar (12 January 2010). "'Baby Einstein' Founder Goes to Court". New York Times.
- Christopher J. Ferguson; M. B. Donnellan (2013). "Is the association between children’s baby video viewing and poor language development robust? A reanalysis of Zimmerman, Christakis, and Meltzoff (2007)" (PDF). Developmental Psychology.
- "Baby Dolittle Neighborhood Animals"
- Baby Einstein website
- Official Baby Einstein blog
- Baby Einstein DVDs Disney's Official Baby Einstein DVD listing
- Julie Aigner-Clark's website