At one time, some of us were squawking at Baby Einstein products, DVDs of images and music suggested to speed along a baby’s development. These held special appeal for anxious parents who secretly wished for a budding genius, but worried others who feared today’s ever-increasing pressure on kids to succeed. BabyPlus is sure to make waves again. Their ads read, “You’re never too young to learn. In fact, you don’t even have to be born!” BabyPlus is a unit that an expecting mom wears around her belly. It projects 16 drum-like heartbeat sounds, and the pulsing rhythm gets faster and more complex as the pregnancy advances. These “auditory exercises” are said to boost your baby’s memory and learning skills.
Some of the claims are iffy, such as the “20 years of scientific research” behind its creation. Sure there’s plenty of research on early stimulation and learning of infants in the womb, but that doesn’t mean specifically using BabyPlus will definitely promote early learning or even benefit your baby in any special way. Their website includes pretty intimidating super-tech language: “BabyPlus provides…sequential variations from the imprinted cardiac baseline, thereby exercising formative neurology through elementary information-processing, strengthening memory and comparative functions to reduce normal brain cell death concluding gestation.” (Whew, who would even dare question that!) And their claims of results in infants exposed to BabyPlus are pretty amazing: better sleeping patterns, more relaxed and alert at birth, more ready to nurse, and other small miracles. Some users have claimed wonderful results, with their newborn being highly alert and a great sleeper, but others have noticed poor napping or eating patterns.
The million-dollar question is how can we know if it was BabyPlus that caused positive behaviors or if it was just good ole’ genes? The answer is we can’t know. Clearly, the majority of infants who are calm and easy to care for have never heard the drum beats of BabyPlus. Even though BabyPlus discusses a study (which, important to note, they funded) directly comparing infants who had not been exposed to BabyPlus to those who had (the result not surprisingly that BabyPlus babies did much better), a baby’s environment and genes alone still play a large role in shaping his personality.
The BabyPlus unit must be worn at least 2 hours a day and the batteries need changing weekly. Along with a $149.99 price tag, BabyPlus is a pretty high maintenance product. We’re not yet convinced that simply exposing your infant (in the womb and after) to a variety of music, rhythms, and even your own crooning won’t offer similar results.