Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

4 Great Baby DVDs You Should Know About

Baby videos have generated lots of discussion in the last couple of years, and rightfully so. Most of those that I see are just terrible. I wonder why indie filmmakers think they can simply film some pretty images, add music and believe that a baby will learn anything from it. It’s just not so. Even well known brands have been criticized for not being able to hold up to the educational claims they make. And, of course the AAP is well know for its stand on “no media for kids under the age of 2.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proposing that you stick your infant in front of a TV screen, walk away and expect him or her to become the next rocket scientist in 20 years. But, let’s face it, sometimes a parent needs some alone time, to wash their hair, make dinner, or perhaps take care of another child. Here are four great DVDs from one of my favorite companies, So Smart, that you can feel good about putting your 1 to 3-year old in front of. And, with some interaction from you, they will learn.

So Smart: Baby’s First Word Stories – Get Dressed. We applaud So Smart for creating a sweet, easy to understand show for toddlers with simple stories, gentle rhymes, lovely production values and delightful, upbeat music. The narrator is easy to listen to; the characters are non-threatening. The DVD encourages participation by asking the viewer questions they can easily answer such as, “What words do you remember?” There are a series of short vignettes that address getting dressed, playing in the snow, playing with hats, umbrellas, and shoes. Repetition helps learning new words easier. The characters are very likable, they behave in friendly and caring ways. The stories portray simple things that a child might experience in life: a button falling off, the rain coming, the snow melting, a zipper breaking. Characters are shown dealing with these little inconveniences in such a way that we can see how easy it is to replicate. DVD. 30 min.; $15.99; Age: 1-3. ECHO BRIDGE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.

So Smart: Baby’s First Word Stories – House. In this DVD, your little one are introduced to simple words about objects in the home, and then build sentences and stories around them. The video encourages engagement and participation with its questions such as, “What sound is that?” “What words do you remember?” There are 4 vignettes: Bath time, Who’s Hiding in the House, Sounds in My House and Clean-up Time. The stories respect the fact that children can get dirty (while eating or painting) but lets children know its okay to get dirty and that one must later take a bath to clean up. The stories have gentle humor as the characters get dirty all over again even after they take their baths. Obviously well planned out for this age group, our kid reviewers loved it, learned new words and found reinforcement for social skills they are developing. DVD. 30 min.; $15.99; Age: 1-3. ECHO BRIDGE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
So Smart: Baby’s First Word Stories – Nighttime. This DVD uses words that the children should already be hearing and mixes them with words that may be unfamiliar. When a parent or caregiver watches along and emphasizes the words in other contexts, then learning begins. The animal characters are very cute. The colors are bright but not over the top. The use of the music is thoughtful and suitable to the program and audience. Our two-year-old viewers stayed focused for the entire show, saying words for objects they knew. As each segment began, one two-year-old would say, “Oooh! More!” Our ten-month-old looked up now and then but was more interested in his toys than the DVD. The two’s enjoyed a second viewing as much as the first. One 22-month-old, who is more verbal than the 25-month-old, said words without prompting – from the beginning he said, “moon, star, night night, book, light, etc.” When the narrator asked, “Let’s see what we can remember…” they didn’t respond. But, when their parent asked the same thing, they did. Grasping the idea of someone onscreen asking a question takes a bit more maturity. DVD. 30 min.; $15.99; Age: 1-3. ECHO BRIDGE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
So Smart: Baby’s First Word Stories – Outside. I really loved this DVD. Great music. Loved the piano music. Nice uses of pauses to catch a child’s attention. For example, pause then say “leaves fall” and then see them fall. The music is toe-tapping. Coloration is pleasant. Some infant DVDs are just blasting full of brilliant colors, this is much more subtle and thus, more enjoyable. Great use of repetition. Words are restated, then shown again with an image. The producers seem to respect that babies and toddlers need to have their attention caught, then caught again. The pause effect addresses this well. Good use of exercises to encourage memory skills for what was shown. This worked particularly well for slow learning children or a child who takes longer to express himself verbally. The activity guide that comes with it can be printed out and used to reinforce what has been watched. There is also a website to go to for more information about the video and the company. DVD. 30 min.; $15.99; Age: 0-4. ECHO BRIDGE HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
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