For a number of years, Baby Einstein, and its parent company Disney, has been embroiled in arguments with various child advocacy groups over whether its videos falsely claim to provide educational benefits to children. The advocacy groups, notably the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childood (CCFC) claim that, "Baby Einstein has built its brand on the implication that its videos have educational benefits for babies and toddlers," and point to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under the age of two not be exposed to any television viewing time.
Disney contends that it never claimed its Baby Einstein videos were educational, and that it believes parents, not "propaganda groups taking extreme positions," should determine what to buy their children.
The fight got pretty nasty. The CCFC filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2006, which was closed by the FTC without taking any action. That setback for the CCFC was followed by recent threats of a class action suit against Disney.
To blunt the ongoing controversy, Disney is offering refunds for anyone who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009 and is dissatisfied with the product. And, to make it really easy for parents, no receipt is necessary—Disney will refund the current retail value of $15.99. You must claim your refund by March 4, 2010. Full information on the refund process can be found here.
As a parent, I never bought into the educational value of various baby videos, classical music players for the womb or other claimed shortcuts for making "smarter" babies—smarter babies come from real interaction. Nor do I take the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that children should be watching no TV. That's easy to say, but, as every parent knows, sometimes you just need a way to keep your child entertained while you get stuff done (just don't overdo it).