Baby Walkers; Good or Bad for Children?

By: Chris Oregon; U0914169

My parents had a baby walker for me when I was younger. They, just like any other parent, thought that it would help me learn how to walk. I’m not sure how much research was done back then but if they would have known that they did more harm than good they would have never gotten me one. Studies have shown that walkers typically delays motor development and it delays their mental development even more. Apparently in 1994, when walkers were really popular among US parents, the Consumer Products Safety Commission stated that baby walkers had caused more injuries to children than any other child’s product. Canada actually banned walkers in 2004 because of this and anyone found using one can lead to a fine worth up to $100,000 or six months in jail.

Most babies begin to walk anywhere between the age of 9-12 months but that age varies. Babies that use walkers learn to crawl, stand and walk later than those who do not use walkers. These delayed learners continue to show a delay in motor development.

The biggest delays caused by walkers, which is surprising to most if not all parents, is the delay in mental development. This delay causes for the babies to get lower scores on mental development testing.

After doing all this research I know for a fact that I will never use a baby walker with my future children. The cons heavily outweigh the pros in this situation. The two main reasons I would never use a walker is because 1) a walker can lead to several injuries whether it be minor or big and 2) I do not want my child to have a delayed development in anything.

 

 

Resources:

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Activity Cube, Fun for All?

toy

Madeline Gainey

U0870955

The product that I chose to review is the “Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube.” It is a cube shaped toy with various activities on each side. Its features include: functional doors that open to the name and picture of an animal, bead roller coasters, spinners (with the alphabet and illustrations of animals on them), and various illustrated animals. Each side is a different vibrant color and the top has vibrant colored bead roller coasters. The suggested age for this product is ages 1-3 and the educational focus of this toy are shapes, colors and and number of players (sharing). I chose to review this toy because I see this toy in a lot of doctors offices and more often than not there are usually kids fighting over it. I like that it has various educational values, but is it worth it? If kids are just going to fight over it and for single child homes are all of the features too much?

I read an interesting article titled “What Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play” In their study they :

 observe children playing with a variety of toys-nominated by teachers, parents,         researchers, and even children—in a free play setting in preschool classrooms. We code children’s use of the toys in three areas, using a coding instrument that we have developed: thinking/learning/problem solving, social interaction, and creativity.

They found that different toys impact the behavior of the children. Some toys had more influence on the mechanical function of the thought process and  while others had more impact on social aspects of peers. The lead of the study Prof. Trawick-Smith states that:

“We are cautious about recommending specific toys to families. This is because play interests vary greatly across cultures, children and families. However, one trend that is emerging from our studies can serve as a guide to families as they choose toys: Basic is better. The highest-scoring toys so far have been quite simple: hardwood blocks, a set of wooden vehicles and road signs, and classic wooden construction toys. These toys are relatively open-ended, so children can use them in multiple ways.” 

With the study above in mind I think the “Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube” is a good, mentally developing toy. Although it has many activities on all sides of the cube, each activity is fairly simple and the study showed that simple is better. Children are able to use this product in multiple ways. With proper direction it can be shared, used for education, and for development.

Product

https://www.amazon.com/B-Zany-Zoo-Wooden-Activity/dp/B00GPOLYIC

References

Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy. New York, NY; Psychology Press

What the Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org

LEGO®DUPLO® Box of Entertainment and More!

 

LEGO DUPLO Creative Play My First Box of Fun 10580, Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten Large Building Block Toys for Toddlers

Jeffrey Orrego

u0885013

LEGO® DUPLO® Deluxe Box of fun Website: https://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-DUPLO-Deluxe-Box-of-fun-10580

This is the LEGO® DUPLO® Deluxe Box of fun. Simple and sturdy construction blocks big enough for children from one to five years of age. It comes with a turtle, a rabbit, a wagon base, two child figures, a door, and two windows. These blocks come in many simple shapes and sizes (rectangles and squares), but also unorthodox ones with slanted or curved surfaces. The blocks are painted in the primary colors (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow), and decorated with numbers or animal pictures. All 95 blocks and figures come packed inside a nice container with pictures so that the child may draw inspiration of what to build next. The LEGO® website advertises that this product will give your child “hours of entertainment,” and that it will “open up a world of learning and creativity.” For $49.99 and five out of five stars by 390 customer reviews in Amazon. I would dare say this is a solid product, educational or not. Unlike most toys nowadays that have some sort of sound or light when the baby touches it, the construction blocks are simple by design. Matter of fact, many of the reviewers explain that the blocks are fun for their children and even more fun for their parents and grandparents. How many toys for children can say that? As a kid, the toys I remember most were the LEGO® blocks. It’s almost 13 years ago, since I began constructing with them and I don’t remember the exact product name. However, I still have a handful of pieces and by far they are my most cherished childhood toys. Since the normal LEGO® bricks are more of a choking hazard than toys for younger children, I opted for the second-best option out there. Not to mention there has been lots of debate regarding LEGO® products deemed educational for children and it caught my attention. Why not do the best of both worlds?

By 24 months’ children already knows basic three-word sentences, and somewhat discriminate shapes. This is all further developed by 28 months were infants have an easier understanding differentiating circles, triangles, and rectangles. With some difficulty regarding the latter two (2). While Piaget argues that children between 18 to 24 months are developing Mental Representation, the imagination of object presence when it is beyond their reach of actual perception. Scientists criticize him for solely relying upon motor development to acquire knowledge, disregarding perceptual and sensory activity. Imitation due to sensory perception also is important and it is argued as an early form of socialization (3). Operant and classical conditioning also occur early as newborns first take their breath. Most conditioning processes, however, have limitations as the child has to be constantly aware of the responses to the stimuli. Habituation also tendencies also begin early after birth. Bornstein mentions that “quicker decay and lower looking time” may be indices of “efficient information processing.” Bornstein further refers that socioeconomic status and intellectual development in children are correlated. These statuses could very well mean a cognitive advantage over other people.

The study, In any way, shape, or form? Toddlers’ understanding of shapes. Infant Behavior and Development delves into a discrepancy seen by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) that prekindergarten children are able to differentiate multidimensional shapes and identify characteristics that define said shapes. Successful identification of geometrical shapes aids in spatial ability, which in turns is linked with arithmetic comprehension. The study gathered 33 two-year-old children, from which 16 were males and 17 females, to undergo a series of videos where infants would have to identify the geometrical shape (rectangle, square, triangle, and circles) through the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm. Results concluded that two-year-old infants possess knowledge of typical and atypical triangles, circles, and squares; knowing no more than the other two shapes and identification of shapes were because of dismissal of the other two options. Ideally, differentiation should be based on the characteristics of shapes and objects. Nonetheless, many children struggled with rectangle identification. The last results being something it may not even fully develop until six years of age. One reason behind the lack of proper shape recognition may be due to the lack of adult instructions of shapes. Therefore, independent spatial play may be inefficient to further learn about shapes unless it is guided by adult insight.

Although LEGO® DUPLO® Deluxe Box of fun doesn’t quite classify as educational. It may yet be helpful for the child if the play is often guided by adult oversight who shares insight of shape identification. At such young age, it could be tough for the parents trying to their children concepts like length and shape characteristics. However, if taught proper characteristic identification there is a higher likelihood that children might advantageously develop spatial and arithmetical skills before kindergartner. Unlike most block games, LEGO® products have the iconic brick like design. Which may aid infants, with the help of their parents, to identify the hidden shape within the brick (a rectangle in most cases, the shape babies struggle with most). Also, LEGO® have more asymmetrical shapes and through sensory input (like touch for example) infants may increase their knowledge of shapes even further than most. Again, this is all possible if the parents are present to guide his/her child throughout these critical stages of spatial development. If no parental guidance is often given the likelihood for further developed spatial ability might be lessened until 30 months or beyond. Regardless, the LEGO® blocks alone allow the infant to explore and develop Hierarchical Integration (3) which will develop finer muscle control.

In the end, the LEGO® DUPLO® Deluxe Box of fun will benefit your child either way. The difference is that if you as a parent get involved with your child to further explain the properties of three-dimensional objects and shape identification. If not, the construction bricks will still be a fantastic way for your child to keep developing finer motor skills while entertaining himself/herself and eventually integrating all of their movements in a coordinated manner.

References:

  1. LEGO® DUPLO® Deluxe Box of fun. (2016, January 07). Retrieved February 17, 2017, from https://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-DUPLO-Deluxe-Box-of-fun-10580
  2. Zambrzycka, J., Kotsopoulos, D., Lee, J., & Makosz, S. (2017). In any way, shape, or form? Toddlers’ understanding of shapes. Infant Behavior and Development, 46, 144-157. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2016.12.002
  3. Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., Lamb, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in infancy: a contemporary introduction. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Classical Music for Classy Baby?

baby-einstein-take-along-tunes-musical-toy

Nurul Wardah Ishak

u1017458

Music is a necessity. It is a touch of magic in our everyday lives. I believe it encourages creativity and is a unique form of emotional expression. Thus, it is no surprise that expectant parents would love to introduce their child to the world with music in tow. Luckily enough for these parents, there are several educational toys that include or even emphasizes musical features. One of the said products is the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes. Click here for the link to the toy. The toy is designed with a big handle and a colorful central button to cycle through several musical pieces. The musical pieces are from famous classical melodies such as Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, and Rossini. According to the website, this product is targeted for children age 3 months and up. The product claims to be beneficial for children because it will promote auditory development through classical music pieces. I chose this product because I believe this is one of many products that highlights the intriguing but important nature of music in a child’s development.

In regards to auditory development, newborn infants are able to distinguish various intensities and frequencies of sound as the auditory nerve and peripheral sensory system is basically mature by birth (Borstein, Arterberry & Lamb, 2014, p.154). Meanwhile, by 6 to 7 months, infants are already sensitive to features of music and are capable of discriminating pitch and timing (Borstein, Arterberry & Lamb, 2014, p.106). Since the product is targeted for 3 months old, I believe the effects will fall on deaf ears –pun intended- as infants respond to music by 6-7 months of age.

According to the product description, use of this device will boost auditory development through classical music. Though I couldn’t find a specific article that emphasizes on the effects of classical music, I did however come across an article that highlights the effects of music on auditory development. The goal of the study was to find structural brain differences in response to music training. The study sample consisted of 31 children who are randomly assigned into 2 groups; the instrumental group and the control group. The instrumental group, with the mean age of 6.32 years old, were subjected to private keyboard lesson. Meanwhile, the control group, with the mean age of 5.90 years old, were not subjected to musical training. The study was conducted in the period of 15 months. The participants were tested on a series of behavioral tests and an MRI scan of the brain at the start and end of the study. The behavioral tests were conducted to assess fine-finger motor skills along with music listening and discrimination skills. The study found that the instrumental group did significantly better in both finger motor sequencing task and the melodic/rhythmic discrimination test. Furthermore, the study also found a significant change over time in the instrumental group brain deformation. More specifically, they mentioned a deformation in the right primary auditory region and the right motor hand area of the brain. Therefore, the study proves that music does have a significant impact on brain development especially in terms of auditory development (Hyde et al., 2009).

Personally, I find that the claims that Baby Einstein Company makes on the Take Along Tunes to be well-founded on the aspect of musical benefits for young babies. As mentioned in the article, music has the ability to develop the auditory part of the brain (Hyde et al., 2009). But it is important to note that there’s a lack of research on the exact impact of classical music on infants’ auditory development. In fact, I have to point out that the study sample above did not include 3 month-old babies but younger children instead. However, I do believe the effects of music on the development of the brain can still be applied to them. In conclusion, this product is a convenient and adorable way to introduce a child to music.

Reference

  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes. (2017). Toysrus. Retrieved 17 February 2017, from http://www.toysrus.com/buy/stroller-car-seat-toys/baby-einstein-take-along-tunes-30704-2967795
  • Borstein, M., Arterberry, M., & Lamb, M. (2014). Development in Infancy, Fifth Edition (5th Edition) (5th ed., pp. 106, 154-156). New York: Psychology Press.
  • Hyde, K., Lerch, J., Norton, A., Forgeard, M., Winner, E., Evans, A., & Schlaug, G. (2009). Musical Training Shapes Structural Brain Development. Journal Of Neuroscience, 29(10), 3019-3025. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.5118-08.2009

 

LeapBand, Is It Worth It?

Daniel Sebrands

00597655

Product: LeapFrog LeapBand

Ages: 4-7

This product made me laugh a little inside to be completely honest; I mean, when you think about it this product is to help make children more active in their days which sounds ridiculous as they have not needed encouragement to be active before this product. However, let me explain why I feel like this toy is not a good product for our young ones. I am going to go over some of the points the ad makes from Amazon.com that they claim are positives for getting this toy for children; the first is that you can “preload the device with 50 active challenges to get kids moving”. Things like pounce like a lion are these challenges for kids to do throughout the day. Another claim is that it “encourages active play, nurturing and healthy choices”.  LeapFrog is also claiming that their innovative new toy is “fit made fun”.

This came as a surprise when I saw this device, because I literally thought that children are usually drawn to be actively engaged without technological prodding. In an article I found about the ever growing use of electronic toys the authors state that such use is actually concerning for our youth. A story they use at the beginning sets the stage for their argument that electronic toys can become repetitive and boring as they usually have buttons that can be pushed prompting the toy to react in the predicted way. They gave the other side of the story as well with a child playing with a ball with his grandma. They were able to come up with many different ways to play with that ball and maintain the entertainment value, even over his tech toy that all he could really do was dance, and press the button to activate the toy.

With this watch, I feel like it is an ok idea, but to have a device telling our infants when and how to be active, I can see them losing in a sense their creativity and becoming reliant on their toy to give them ideas. And what happens when they become bored of the repetitious nature of the challenges? The authors of the article listed below explain that it is very necessary for infants to explore and play, this brings me to the story of the infant and his grandmother story; his interaction with his grandmother helps to build attachments and we know that strong attachments can help children throughout the rest of their lives be able to handle life situations easier.

All in all, I feel like this product is not really effective at doing what it says it does. I feel like it hinders a child’s exploration, and play even if it does seem fun at first the repetitions and similar button pressing will leave the child bored and will most likely move on to something more engaging.

Reference:

Levin, Diane E., and Barbara Rosenquest. “The Increasing Role of Electronic Toys in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers: should we be concerned?.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 2.2 (2001): 242-247.

Baby Walkers… Yay or Nay?

N. Garg (u0707325)

The first time I saw a baby walker, I was visiting a family friend. The chubby baby gleefully bounced and giggled as it swung one leg out to push himself forward. I remember thinking, “Wow! What a great way to teach your baby how to walk! I am totally going to buy this for my future nieces and nephews!” (None of my siblings were in relationships yet, but I’ve never been one to sweat the small stuff.) However, recently, I learned that walkers have actually gained a reputation of doing more harm than good. One questionnaire of 100 mothers who had children admitted in the emergency room found that 83% of those children used baby walkers. 94% of those babies have had accidents due to baby walker use, and 82% of those babies had head injuries (al-Nouri L, al-Isami S, 2006).  Those numbers are really high, probably because they have been sampled from mothers who are already in the emergency room.

The age that babies begin to walk varies greatly.  Babies may take their first steps somewhere between 9-12 months. They are often walking by the time they are 14 to 15 months old (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). There are certain factors that are often associated with being more likely to walk. As noted by M. Bornstein, M. Arterberry, and M. Lamb (2014) “Crawling infants who showed more interest in objects, carried objects, and shared objects with others over distance at 11 months were more likely to walk by 13 months.”  Most of the parents from the emergency room study indicated that they bought the baby walker in order to help their babies learn how to walk faster. It’s understandable to presume that the child may be motivated to learn how to use the walker to their benefit in order to obtain or examine an object. Aside from the physical dangers of baby walkers, there has been some indication that they may actually hinder the learning process.  Just based off of what I understand, babies learning to walk actually fall less frequently when they are carrying objects, since the objects help with their balance. It may take more time for babies who frequently use baby walkers to learn how to balance themselves, since they are already supported by the walker. Another study on pubmed also indicated that babies might be slightly developmentally delayed since the walkers hinder limb-eye coordination (AC Seigel, RV Burton 1999), but there have been a couple studies since then that refute that claim (P Burrows, P Griffiths 2002). Based off of the information I’ve encountered, I feel like if a parent chooses to allow their baby to use a baby walker, they should do so for a limited time and under a watchful eye.

 

Link to toy:

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=35078356&gclid=Cj0KEQiAuJXFBRDirIGnpZLE-N4BEiQAqV0KGrg8vRGzSnPN2HfrBvhPuFfO_vaFFA-e3dQCxUUr-BsaAnnR8P8HAQ&camp=PLAPPCG-_-PID18508816:BRUS&cagpspn=plab_18508816&eESource=CAPLA_DF:35078356:TRUS

 

 

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009, August 01). Movement: 8 to 12 Months. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Movement-8-to-12-Months.aspx

Al-nouri L, Al-isami S. Baby walker injuries. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2006;26(1):67-71.

Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., Lamb, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in infancy: a contemporary introduction. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Burrows P, Griffiths P. Do baby walkers delay onset of walking in young children?. Br J Community Nurs. 2002;7(11):581-6.

Siegel AC, Burton RV. Effects of baby walkers on motor and mental development in human infants. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1999;20(5):355-61.

 

babies-r-us-2-in-1-activity-walker-35078356-01

‘Baby Wordsworth’ DVDs -Not Really Worth it?

U1000030

Irene Kim

baby-wordsworthDue to the fast development of technology and significant growth in media, parents try to find more accessible ways to educate their children. As a result, the first infant-directed DVD series called “Baby Einstein” launched. These series were made by a Walt Disney company based in California, which later on became a great hit among parents. This was a phenomenal invention and was so inviting to families,  due to the fact that they could just show videos to their infants and supposedly make them smarter. Back when my little brother was a year old, my parents would haul all the Baby Einstein DVD’s they could find on the market and played them -all day in hope of making my baby brother smarter. My parents still strongly believe that the educational videos they have shown to my brother had made a big difference when he was young. So this was an interesting topic for me to look into and see whether my parent’s belief was right or wrong.

One of these videos my brother watched was the Baby Wordsworth from the Baby Einstein Company. This video is targeted for children over 9 months and strives to improve early language development. The reason it is targeted for infants during this period is specific to language development. According to Tamis-Lemonda, a language development researcher for human psychology, infant’s language accusation starts to arise between 9 to 13 months.(2001) Starting with these months, babies start to make communication by babbling with sounds and as more time passes some words may become recognizable by the parent. Also, infants start to understand language around them during this period as well. This video is a 35 minute long video and presents 30 different types of words which are usually objects found in the house. They also show children and parents playing various activities in the house while labeling. Whenever a word is presented, the video also shows the text and introduces the sound of the text as well.


https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Einstein-Wordsworth-First-Around/dp/B0007Z9QYE

Despite the fact that the video has captivating features, many started to hold suspicion on whether the product actually worked, since intelligence is something parents cannot easily measure. Thus, many simple studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of the DVD. A particular study was conducted at the University of California with 95 toddlers (12-25 months). These babies were randomly assigned into a control group where no DVD was assigned and a experimental group where DVDs were assigned. To compare and contrast, both groups were tested for language skills and the parents participated in completing several scales that report the infants language development and cognitive skill improvement. The experiment was continued at each infant’s house for a full 6 weeks (watching DVD, not watching DVD) and came back to the lab to do the same measurements again every two weeks.

The results were shocking due to fact that there was no such difference between the two groups. (DVD watched group and no expose group). Not only did they fail to improve, but also the infants who were exposed to these specific DVDs, closer to 12 months, have shown lower vocabulary scores. Along with this study, many other similar studies had risen up on the surface, all arguing that these DVDs had no such miraculous effect on infants language development.

In conclusion, the article here has good evidence that the ‘Baby Wordsworth’ DVD is not really worth it after all. The supposed effectiveness and specific language development that the advertisement highlights and boast about are now unsupported and flawed due the results of this specific research. In addition, the result of this research strongly suggests that children are most likely to learn a word faster and accurately from an adult than that of a monitor screen program. Although real life interaction is highly encouraged, as technology grows, more companies are going to try to develop an effective yet easy way to educate children. I personally believe that it is inevitable for children to take in technology and education bound with it. Consider just this moment, as I am writing an assignment electronically! Thus, I believe more research and more development should be done in the near future in order to harmonize education and electronics altogether.

 

References:

Richert, R. A., Robb, M. B., Fender, J. G., & Wartella, E. (2010). Word learning from baby videos. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine164(5), 432-437.

Tamis‐LeMonda, C. S., Bornstein, M. H., & Baumwell, L. (2001). Maternal responsiveness and children’s achievement of language milestones. Child development, 72(3), 748-767.

Link to Ad:

https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Einstein-Wordsworth-First-Around/dp/B0007Z9QYE

 

 

 

 

The Rise of the Talking Toys

By: Emma Carson–U0920535

cmw49smartstagesactivityplayhouse6
The Problem:

I think most of us can agree that when a parent purchases their child a toy that is marketed as “educational” or “helpful for development” they are only trying to help. However, it may often be the case that their infant instead becomes the victim of their naïve consumerism as some studies have found these claims to be false. Far too many toy companies are taking advantage of parents good intentions and making false claims about their products. A big one of the last decade: talking toys.

Talking toys are electronic toys with lots of buttons to press that will greet the baby, sing the alphabet, or ask questions. To find a few examples of these types of toys all I did was google search “educational toys” and immediately a lot of talking toys popped up.  The first link I checked out led to the Fischer Price website where I found THIS toy. It is even called the “Laugh and Learn”, a colorful toy with numbers, letters, and shapes and a voice that recites these things to the infant. There it is, proof of these false claims. It is easy to see why a parent might think these toys will help. Interestingly enough I clicked on this specific toy because I recognized it as a toy at my parents house that they have for when their grand kids come over!  That is why I chose to write on talking toys, not only is it interesting and counter intuitive to learn that these toys aren’t actually helpful but it is interesting and frustrating to see how a great deal of their marketing promises are a lie and so many people give in to it.

The Evidence:

Talking toys are most often promoted as helping infants develop their language skills but these toys may actually be hindering this development. A study done by Ana V. Sosa, PhD was created to measure the quantity and quality parent-child communication based on the toy being played with. The study focused on 10-16 month children and their play with electronic toys, traditional toys, and books. The study found a decrease in vocalization made by the infant, parent interaction and conversation, and all around developmental quality of the play compared with the other toys. The study confidently concludes that electronic toys are not only not beneficial to infant language development but that these talking toys should be altogether discouraged.

So what exactly is the recommendation for helping infants with language development?

Now imagine for a moment the interaction had between a mother and baby playing with an interactive book, maybe one that has pop ups, pictures, and labels. How do you see this interaction going? Usually the mom will read the page out loud or point to animals and say their name or ask the baby what sound it makes. The mother playing along and asking the baby questions will usually elicit some sort of response. The baby will try to mimic the words their mother says or attempt to answer the moms questions. Baby books provide very good interactive time between the parent and the child, and it is these types of interactions that are best for helping a baby’s language skills!  In our textbook “Development in Infancy”(Bornstein, 2014, p.180) he says that imitation and observational learning are very important. When a parent directly interacts with her child, saying words and pointing to their meaning, an infant will watch and learn and when they are ready try to identify words to objects on their own. During observational learning mirror neurons are activated and this will help the infant to be able to perform the acts or say the words themselves. Taking a way the person to person interaction and leaving a baby with an electronic toy that is attempting to teach them the alphabet makes this impossible.

The answers are in the research: talking toys are out. Instead focus on the quality of your interactions with infants–rather than showy, loud toys– just talk to them ask them questions even if you think they won’t be able to answer just yet!

 

Citation:

Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in infancy: a contemporary introduction. New York: Psychology Press.

Sosa, A. V. (2016). Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(2), 132. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3753

 

Will Mozart REALLY turn my child into a Baby Einstein?

baby-genius By: Chelsea Borelo, u0876703

We have all heard the promises of playing music for your infant and the life-long benefits it will provide them. I have heard every claim from “It will make your baby develop faster!” to “Your baby will be a genius!”. With all of the information we are constantly receiving, I have often wondered how legitimate these magical, prodigy-making music toys really are. After being curious for so long, I decided to find out for myself.

The specific toy I chose to investigate is called the Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table (quite a mouthful, right?). To get a better idea of the toy you can follow this link: http://www.toysrus.com/buy/interactive-toys/baby-einstein-discovering-music-activity-table-90592-12667683. Baby Einstein is a hugely popular brand for baby items, and this is one of their most popular products. It is a toy table with various colorful, musical activities that are designed to expose your baby to the world of music. Not only does it have a bounty of music making toys, it also talks to the baby in different languages and allows the baby to be very interactive and exposed to new languages along with music. The purpose of the table is to allow the baby to have freedom of “musical experimentation” and to introduce the baby to the world of music. The toy is designed for infants from 6 months up to 2 years. Baby Einstein also claims to have products unlike any other because the items are designed from a “baby’s point of view”. As someone who is very passionate about music, I was very intrigued to see whether this toy lives up to its name and reputation, and whether it would be worth purchasing for my future children.

According to the textbook “Development in Infancy” by Marc H. Bornstein, Martha E. Arterberry, and Michael E. Lamb, as infants develop there are certain perceptual cues that matter more than others. As babies grow past the newborn stage and are a few months old, they start to distinguish between their language and other foreign languages. When they get older they can no longer “discriminate contrasts that are not present in their linguistic environments.” They also have their musical preferences shaped by the experiences they have in their own cultures.

An article I found talking about the psychology of music discusses these music based toys and technology, and reviews what the effects are of electronic music versus human produced music (mother singing to baby). Technology has taken the place of human interaction in many situations, including music. The article talks about how the researchers conducted a study where they developed music based on pre-language sounds and produced three different studies where the mothers interacted with the paralanguage music. This particular music is a great concept because it relates to the babies more based on where they are at developmentally and uses sounds that they also use. They found that mothers were open to playing this music for their babies and purchasing products that used this music. The article also goes on to discuss the impact of music on children and that it is the interaction of care-giver and baby along with the music that is what helps the child develop, and without that interaction it is not nearly as effective. The “Mozart Effect”, the concept I mentioned earlier that states that playing Mozart for babies helps them developmentally and cognitively, has actually led to babies being over stimulated by toys that blare music at them and media that is supposed to make them smarter. This is where the paralanguage music comes in, as it is not overly stimulating and more on the infants development level.

After evaluating this article and product, it would seem to me that this toy is not going to make babies super intelligent or develop quicker. If anything, the over stimulation of being exposed to electronic music and toys all of the time rather than human interaction can hinder the baby. Music provided by the care giver or played for the baby while spending time with the human seems to be the best way to expose the baby to music, rather than giving them a loud and hyperactive toy. This toy could provide benefits for the child if the caregiver plays with the toy  with them, or alternates between toys and human contact.

In conclusion, I would say: all things in moderation. Babies tend to love these colorful, musical toys, and I don’t think taking the toys away is the answer. These toys can be great in small doses, but the most important thing to remember is to interact with your baby a healthy amount, and to not allow your baby to be accompanied only by toys and technology. There is not enough technology in the world to replace what a loving care giver provides!

Sulkin, Idit & Brodsky, Warren. (2013). Parental preferences to music stimuli of devices and playthings for babies, infants, and toddlers. Psychology  of Music.

Bornstein, Marc, Martha Arterberry, & Michael Lamb. (2014). Development in Infancy: A Contemporary Introduction (164).

VTech Turn and Learn Driver

Nikolajs Pecholcs

U0827629

The toy is a pretend car steering wheel that attributes different sounds with the images, and lights on the toy.  There are three different sound settings on the left side one that plays musical notes, another that makes animal sounds, and the last one making car noises.  After the sound is played a voice comes on, and says what the sound is coming from.  It has a lot to offer with seven different sections to explore each having three different sound options.  The manufacturer has the toy listed for ages six months to three years of age, and claims that it teaches them daily life, colors, fine motor skills, and pretend play.  I like the toy because you have to know which setting you want to get the desired noises to appear and you are attributing sounds with visual aids.  Plus it is not that large of a toy so if the child wants to drive just like you in the car it wouldn’t be too hard to make it work in a safe way just be sure the batteries are not in it.

I read an interesting article titled “The Role of Context in the Categorization of Hybrid Toy Stimuli by 18-Month-Olds”.  In their study they wanted to see if the infants could categorize hybrid toys into groups.  They took several different toy bases such as a car, an animal, or a doll having each child play with them.  They hinted at how to play with the toys like spinning the cars wheels, having the dolls or animals walk along the surface.  Then they revealed the second part of the experiment where they had what they referred to as hybrid toys where they gave the cars legs, or the others wheels seeing if the child would be able to categorize it with the previous set of toys.  In the end the infants were able to categorize the hybrid toys with previous groups they were playing with.  I liked this article because the turn and learn toy is basically a hybrid in itself.  What I mean by this is with the different settings for the sounds you are doing the same hand motions on the toy, but getting different outcomes.  If you can categorize the outcomes with what you are doing you would in theory be learning each different outcome for that specific button/lever.

In conclusion I think this is a good educational toy for an infant.  It will help them to learn colors, objects, and help fine tune motor functions.  It supports the manufacturer’s target areas of learning, and more.  The parents may not like the idea of having the ignition key being a volume controller that the infant has access to, but it is fun for the child to be able to identify different levels of sound volume.  Possible harm that I can see from this product would be along the lines of you have the basic needs to pass your Utah drivers ed test with this toy, but that isn’t the toys fault.

References

Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy. New York, NY; Psychology Press.

Mareschal, D. & Tan, S.H.(2008). The Role of Context in the Categorization of Hybrid Toy Stimuli by 18-Month-Olds. Taylor & Francis Group. LLC Psychology Press; Infancy, 13(6), 620-639

Product

https://www.amazon.com/VTech-Turn-and-Learn-Driver/dp/B00Y53V80E/ref=sr_1_152?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1487302938&sr=1-152&refinements=p_n_age_range%3A165890011%7C165813011