I realize that I have been writing a lot about baby products lately, in posts like this one and this one. For the record, I’m not in cahoots with any of the companies that I have mentioned. In fact, I haven’t used any of these products yet, so please take everything that I have to say with a grain of salt. I’m just a plain old momma-to-be looking for healthy, affordable, and (whenever possible) environmentally friendly baby products.
Like all parents out there, I just want what’s best for my little turnip. And boy do companies seem to know this! Everywhere I go lately, I’m given advertisements, coupons, and product samples for baby stuff. Par exemplar, here is a “gift bag” from my OB-GYN’s office, chock full of product samples and advertisements:
I’m down to
a few two pairs of pants and a couple of shirts that still fit me, so I finally bit the bullet and bought some maternity clothes over the weekend. I bought two pairs of capri pants and a cute shirt from a consignment shop and few more things from a maternity store at the mall. Tucked into my shopping bag was this pamphlet:
In case you can’t see it clearly, it’s a little speaker that you strap around your belly with a “prenatal curriculum…designed to strengthen your baby’s learning capabilities.” My initial reaction was something like, “Are you kidding me?! What a crock of [bleep]!” Luckily, I was in my car, so no one could hear me other than the Turnip, and I’m pretty sure my voice sounds like Charlie Brown’s mother at this point.
I try not to be stupidly dismissive, so I figured I should at least read what they had to say. So while sitting at the next traffic light, I perused the inside of the brochure:
“Based on 20 years of scientific research”
“A breakthrough in learning”
“BabyPlus parents report…earlier developmental milestones…enhanced intellectual abilities…greater creativity and independence…longer attention spans…”
At this point, I’m thinking, What kind of scientific research? Who funded it? Of course parents report good results! Parents who would buy this must be doing all sorts of things to support their kids’ development! Not to mention the placebo effect…
Still trying to keep an open mind (you may be noticing that this is not my strong suit), I figured that I should look into the research myself. First stop – the company’s website. I click on the “Science” tab and I’m taken to a timeline of research related to their product, beginning in – are you ready for this? – 500 BCE. Now laughing, I click on “Independent Clinical Trial,” and I’m taken to a page with a research study conducted in Russia between 1992 and 2001. I have to admit, a study of this length made me stop laughing for a minute. But then I looked at the sample sizes:
11 babies who received BabyPlus enrichment
11 babies who received musical enrichment
9 babies in the control (no enrichment)
So over a period of 9 years, they studied 11 babies who used their product. Take a look at the article yourself, but this is clearly not a rigorous clinical trial. I know I may be insulting well-intentioned parents out there who have bought this or similarly ridiculous products like this one or this one, but I’m gonna stick with tried and true methods like reading to my child and letting him/her bang on pots and pans with a wooden spoon. All of you BabyPlus parents out there can laugh when your kid beats mine on the SAT.
To borrow from John Stewart, I’ll leave you all with this moment of zen.