After Controversy, Disney Issues Baby Einstein Recall

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After Controversy, Disney Issues Baby Einstein Recall


Image: The Reading Nook

Disney is offering a DVD upgrade or moneyback guarantee to everyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009 (the day the notice was put out).

The recall, if you want to call it that, came about after interest groups pressured the company to offer parents a refund. The premise: Time in front of a TV screen is bad for babies. An FTC complaint convinced Disney to rescind an earlier claim that Baby Einstein DVDs were educational.

Since September, interest groups have claimed a further victory in persuading the company to offer consumers a refund. Details of the Baby Einstein recall (from their website, via Slate):

To participate, you must have purchased a Baby Einstein DVD between June 5, 2004 and September 4, 2009.

If you are not satisfied with the Baby Einstein DVD you purchased during the period mentioned above, for a limited time beginning on September 4, 2009 and ending on March 4, 2010, you may exchange it for one of the following:

* One (1) Baby Einstein Book of your choice
* One (1) Baby Einstein music CD of your choice

– Or –

* One (1) coupon for 25% off the purchase of one Little Einsteins™ product. Redeemable with promotion code only at DisneyStore.com.

or you may return it, and we will refund the current retail value of the DVD ($15.99).

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, an interest group, describes their version of the recall (via Slate):


As a result of our 2006 Federal Trade Commission complaint, Disney stopped claiming that Baby Einstein videos were educational for infants, but the company made no move to compensate parents who purchased them.

We thought parents deserved better. So, with help from CCFC members like you, we kept the pressure on until Disney agreed to reimburse Baby Einstein customers.

The refund offer is a wonderful victory for families and anyone who cares about children. Recent research shows that screen time is not educational for babies. Now parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, can recoup their money.

How did the Baby Einstein people officially react? By lashing back, and claiming no guilt:

For the past several years, Baby Einstein has been under attack by propaganda groups taking extreme positions that try to dictate what parents should do, say and buy. Our philosophy has always been to focus on creating products that parents and babies love, and to not get sidetracked and pulled down into their street fight.

Unfortunately, with Susan Linn’s latest stunt, we cannot be silent any longer. Linn’s obvious dislike for Baby Einstein has now turned into a sensational, headline-grabbing publicity campaign that seeks to twist and spin a simple, customer satisfaction action into a false admission of guilt. This is clearly not the case.

Linn’s moves are carefully crafted to prey on parental guilt and uncertainty. This time, she began by asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to go after Baby Einstein because, she said, we claimed that Baby Einstein was educational. But we do not make any such claim – and the FTC brought no action.

We strongly believe that, unlike Linn, our consumers find value in our product, and rather than continue to fight with her, we decided it to leave it up to those consumers. That is why we extended a refund policy that was already in place. Although she would like to claim otherwise, there is nothing extraordinary about a company’s willingness to stand behind its product. To the contrary, it is the strongest possible show of confidence in it.

Finally, what’s Susan Linn’s argument? Stop corporations from limiting kids’ imaginations:

Susan Linn, the nation’s leading advocate for protecting children from corporate marketers…argues that while play is crucial to human development and children are born with an innate capacity for make believe, the convergence of ubiquitous technology and unfettered commercialism actually prevents them from playing. In modern day America, nurturing creative play is not only countercultural—it threatens corporate profits.

In an age when toys come from TV shows, dress-up means wearing Disney costumes, and parents believe Baby Einstein is educational, Dr. Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us why we need to protect our children from corporations that aim to limit their imaginations.

In sum: If you want to heed the study claiming too much screen time inhibits babies’ language development–and perhaps limit corporate brainwashing in the process–Baby Einstein is offering you an alternative to its DVDs.

43 Comments
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  • Justyna H.
    October 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Well, for me it’s entirely up to the parents to allow their children to watch tv, decisions on when and what is appropriate to watch for the little ones should be dictated by the common sense not ads and global marketing.We began to buy Baby Einstein in 2002 when our first daughter was about 10 months old and at the time she was watching videos for limited amounts of time.Then our twins two years later were introduced to the dvds and still today at age 7 and 5 my kids enjoy watching Baby Einstein.Of course there are people who use a tv as a free babysitter and their kids are constantly subjected to watching the box , no matter what show it is Barney, Baby E. ,Wiggles or anything else there was created.Smart parents should choose wisely what the kids should watch and the age they should start watching to avoid blaming everybody else for their mistakes.

  • Lisa
    October 27, 2009 at 5:50 am

    My kids loved Baby Einstein when they were babies/toddlers. This recall makes me very angry. My kids are now 7 and 4 and are very intelligent children. Whether that has anything to do with BE, I don’t know, but it surely did not hurt them. Baby Einstein was a wonderful experience for us, and we will support Baby Einstein.

  • Dan
    October 27, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Any shmuck who thought plopping your infant in front of a TV set was duped by corporate marketing. Of course its bad for the kid, and of course it was pushed by corporate America. The only surprise is that people are surprised.

  • Dreanna
    October 28, 2009 at 4:02 am

    I began my daughter on Baby Einstein Videos at 2 & 1/2 months old. She is now 17 months old and knows 18 different signs( Thanks to BE videos that include sign language). She started with drinks at 9 months old and we realized she had learned it from her videos. People are amazed when they see her do signs and ask us where she was taught that? We proudly tell them from her BE videos. This helps her communicate with us and tell us what she wants. Weither it is drinks, bites,water,sleep,etc..It really helps! I will not be returning my videos for a refund, we LOVE them and will continue to watch them. I support Baby Einstein and hope they continue making more educational DVD’s, exspecially with sign language included. Thank You!

  • melissa
    October 28, 2009 at 8:44 am

    This is just more nonsense. It’s the equivalent to people suing McDonalds because it made them fat. I get so sick of people not wanting to own their choices and always looking for someone else to blame. (particularly when that someone has deep pockets) Let’s bring down all of “Corporate America!” then we can all be out of a job! hooray!

  • Suzanne
    October 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I have two kids who have both watched BE and I am so thankful that I had the DVD’s when they were babies. I do not believe that by watching a 20min video their intelligence is greatly affected. My daughter was 9mnths she began to watch the videos. By 15mnths her vocabulary was already between 75-100 words, well above average for her age. The 20min break that I got while she watched the video was MUCH needed! I not only cherished the time I got to have snuggling with her on the couch, I loved seeing her light up watching other babies, giggle at the puppets and learn some simple Sign Language. This whole thing is just ridiculous to me.

  • gessica
    November 2, 2009 at 9:42 am

    My son loves BE. This is ridiculous. People need to stop blaming others for their on mistakes. Grow up and be a better parent thats all. Stop blaming others..

  • zapatha.mccuen
    November 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

    my grand son has speach delay and thank God 4 BE. He was able to communicate through sign thanks to Wordsworth. He is now five and doing quite well. I credit BE for his formative progress. It is one of my staple gifts to new parents.

  • Kyle Druding
    November 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I am glad to see people using their experiences as great examples to counter this Dr. Linn’s propoganda. The very generous offer of this refund only shows how BE is trying to get passed this quack who probably has a messed up kid and wants to blame corprate America. We have a choice to buy and watch movies. It is to bad this Dr. Doesn’t use her education for something that might actually help children.

  • Robin
    November 3, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    This is really sad….considering when the parent bought the DVD they knew it was in front of the television, also the length of the video is posted on the back, You are blaming a company for the time you placed your child in front of the tv knowing it was unhealthy. You are the parent you have control of how much “t.v Watching” you put your child thru, can’t blame them if you would rather have the tv be your babysitter for that amount of time. These are great videos. I will contiue to support BE.

  • Erin
    November 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I received the Mozart BE DVD when my son was 3 months old and have since purched others. At first I was hesitant to expose him to TV at such a young age, but then I watched it and my mind was changed. Anyone who has actually watched these DVDs and has kids knows how valuable they are. My now 1 year old son already has a love of classical music and has been signing since he was 10 months. Any parent who uses TV, no matter the program, as a babysitter for extended amounts of time needs to look at other options. I am glad that BE was around as a tool for me to use a few times a week, and it also came in very handy when that needed shower was overdue! I will continue to support BE.

  • Susan
    November 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    We introduced our son to quite a few Baby Einstein videos when he was 8 months old and up. I never expected them to improve his intelligence but I felt (and still feel) they were a safe occasional distraction. My son is 4 now and he has speech challenges but I am certain that is due to his premature birth, not TV viewing. Even today he enjoys watching Baby MacDonald and gets much needed practice with pronunciation as we repeat the words while watching it together.

  • Nina
    November 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Although, I am not a fan of disneyification of storylines, the Baby Einstein series we purchased from Costco have been a great boon to my son’s development. He had and still has sensory issues that I was not aware of until I started trying to do signs with him. The only sign he learnt was ‘more”, yet he did learn to read and associate words with concrete concepts. The videos when used properly can be a great educational asset. He is now 3.5 years old and can read the beginning B.O.B. books. We can not live in today’s word and avoid the t.v. entirely but we can monitor and educate our children as they watch.

  • Sherry
    November 11, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    My son who is now 4, loved watching the Baby Van Gogh DVD when he was 7 mos and would watch it almost every evening until he was 2 as part of his quiet time before he went off to bed. He is a bright and intelligent little boy and I think thanks to the BE video, appreciates and knows his colours and loves to paint! Whether that has anything to do with BE, I don’t know, but it surely has not harmed him in any way. We will continue to support Baby Einstein and use these videos as a valuable part of his educational experience.

  • RPARKER
    November 16, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    This is total and complete greed on the part of those of you who return these items. Especially if you used them religiously like most people did! My daughter watched these videos interactively with my husband and I and we used them as a teaching tool. She has been tested off the charts in giftedness tests and has not been harmed by watching them as some might want to claim. She knew the planets before she was 2 and also recognized a friends’ painting as a “Monet” at 3 years old because of our interaction with these DVDs. While it cannot, in fact, be claimed that these DVDs will make our kids smarter, or that they had anything to do with her giftedness, I think the fact that they give parents opportunities to interact with their children alongside the DVDs is great. Maybe if you use the DVDs to babysit your children as a substitute for you and your teaching, that could cause the harm spoken of by the research. Certainly the lack of parent interaction has been proven to harm children, has it not? Stop the greed and start paying attention to your kids.

  • Joline Pruitt
    November 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Both of my daughters love Baby Einstein. They watched one of the DVDs for 15-20 minutes 1 or 2 days a week. I think this is what the DVDs were intended for. Moderation. Should we recall candy because parents give too much to their children? Recall beef because people have high cholesterol? You could apply this thought to just about anything. Does Susan Linn support book burning as well?

  • Pat
    November 24, 2009 at 6:56 am

    How and where do we return them for the money back option?

  • Kathy
    November 26, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Our son is now 4.5 yrs. and watched BE from 6 months to 2 years. He is a very intelligent child. I believe in BE. I watched every video before our son watched them. His favorite was Baby Mozart. The music and video was very entertaining (FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME) and soothing. IF a parent chooses to use TV or video as a distraction or babysitter and then expect but doesn’t get a child prodigy as a result, then it would make sense to me that the “fault” would be that of the neglectful, ignorant parent. It is disgusting that some people think they know what is best for others just to have their 15 min. of fame.

  • November 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    This is ridiculous to me. I understand that sitting your child in front of a tv is not okay. HOWEVER, I would sit with my daughter in front of the tv and talk, sing and enjoy the dvd’s together. THAT IS an educational experience! Ridiculous.

  • HEATHER
    November 29, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Ive heard alot in my day, but when i heard this i was shocked! Every baby i know loves these videos. They are beautifully made and educational.Just dont let them watch them too much. Some people are just crazy… those people should but all the energy into something more important what a waste!!!

  • Hal
    December 2, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    This sounds like another liberal stunt to protect me and my child from my apparent stupidity. I thinks it’s fine that she doesn’t want her kids to watch tv and never know anything else beyond the walls of her home except where she chooses to take them. I limit the time and content that my child watches. She loves Baby Einstein and will continue to until she outgrows them.

  • Kee Kee
    December 9, 2009 at 3:18 am

    My daughter was given the Baby Einstein DVD collection and I find them extremely stimulating and will continue to use them but as every parent should, I limit the time she watches them and anyother TV programing. People really need to stop letting the media and attention grubbers corrupt their minds. Before going on the shelf there were many testing channels and with that being said, calm down, it wont make ur children illiterate a maybe if we remember to interact with our children we wont have to worry about BE slowing down their developments.

  • Carol S
    December 13, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I have some Baby Einstein DVD we use occasionally in our in home daycare, our child love them and beg us to watch them all the time. Personally if children are going to watch any TV make it something that will help children appreciate music.

  • Ian
    December 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Well I have to say our daughter watched BE videos for her first few years and they are great. I think they stimulate a child alot, think about it children are sponges they learn at great rates you just have to feed them the right things at the right time. Hearing the sounds, seeing the pictures, and the association of the two together is learning. Are daughter is at 2nd grade level but shes in 1st, she is in special learning, tested way above what was needed and has an IQ of 120. I think they help and i think Linn just wanted money pure and simple.

  • Ian
    December 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Oh we want to know when they will be sold in the stores again because we need some for our son. :)

  • Nicole
    December 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! If they are going after Baby Einstein, then they should be going after every single company who puts out videos and tv shows geard towards children!! My daughter is 8 months old and she loves Baby Einstein and several other Disney shows. They are educational… it’s not like she’s watching Spongebob or something that’s just filled with stuipidity and nonsense.

  • Adam
    December 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    My daughter is almost nine months and she has watched baby einstein at least once everyday…she is very active and even has favorite parts of each dvd….she is talking and crawling and standing up on her own…it has nothing to do with the shows it has to do with the parents just sitting their babies in front of the tv and not teaching them their selves….they should recall lazy parents….it has even taught me to love classical music and know the songs myself

  • Sarah
    December 28, 2009 at 6:48 am

    If you know anything about an infant’s brain, you know that ANYTHING they encounter is learning, and thus developing the brain. This is especially true for little ones who cannot crawl yet. What do they do all day….look at stuff!! Baby Einstein videos are in fact educational, because they give repetition of numbers and letters (just like PBS shows), and also give “play” examples, among other things… I cannot believe these groups won this law suit.

  • Julie
    January 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    My daughter who will be five in May, enjoyed BE since she was just 6 months old. She has developed a love of music and plays piano and loves the puppets and toys in the show. When we have so much “junk” on TV now and since forever, it was refreshing to have something wholesome and innocent she could watch and still enjoys watching today.

  • Dawn
    January 9, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I think that this recall is absolutely ridiculous!! We had purchased every single one of the BE DVD’s, and my now 4 yr old son watched these, in moderation, of course. He loved them, and learned colors, and words in different languages, and shapes, and so on. These people can say all they want that these DVD’s are not educational, but I have proof sitting right next to me, that they are. It gives children sights and sounds of things that they might not ever come into contact with, in their daily lives. I would recommend these DVD’s to any new parents. I stand behind BE 100%!!!!! The key to watching these is MODERATION – the DVD’s are NOT babysitters – but parents should already know that!!!

  • erasmus
    January 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    my third grader finished all 7 H Potter novels before the start of third grade and his younger brother may surpass him. Thanks BE, if we had not watched the videos my kids could be in college by now.

  • meg
    February 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I Love the BE videos! I am appauled that Greedy people would return them to get their $ back. I am angered at the people who spent all the time and $ into fighting this STUPID cause, when there are so many other valuable fights to fight.
    I fully think that these videos have helped in the cognitive learning of my daughter, besides that they are fun to interact to with her.
    Perhaps if the people who started this fight watched the videos when they were younger……then they would be smarter today.

  • Abby
    March 12, 2010 at 6:51 am

    My secretary said her grandchild love the BE series. At her suggestion, I bought the 4 pack for about $70. My child would not even listen or watch. I sent it to the daycare and those kids did not enjoy. I have a doctorate in Education, so I am quiet aware of the power of head start. However, I decided to return the fourpack for the allowable refund. I got ONE check for $15.99. I sent FOUR DVD’s. Postage costed more! I got screwed!

  • Tommy
    March 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I think the DVD’s are great for kids. No claims about IQ are part of the advertising. I feel that our grandchildren can only benefit from learning words and numbers and letters. They’re also a safe place to put the children for a while. When will the crying minorities in this country quit subverting the will of the majority by being the squeaky wheel. Never, I’m sure, but that is why we have to speak up a little more often for the good things that work for us.

  • Tiffany
    March 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I reciently just bought 2 DVD’s from a garage sale and wow. My first BE videos and how amazing. My four month will not stop watching em! He absolutly loves em! I would buy more of them but since this ‘recal’ has been issued, I can’t seem to find them anywhere! We sware by them! Thank you for such wonderful learning tools!

  • Letty
    April 19, 2010 at 12:57 am

    The videos are great. My twins love them. I don’t know how this is any different from letting them watch a different cartoon. Too much TV? That is why there are time limits for TV. Hello!

  • Gina
    April 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I agree that a baby/child should not be left in front of the TV for an extended period of time regardless of what’s on. This recall is ridiculous. At least these videos are short and they DO teach various things versus other videos that are up to 2 hours of just a story line. My son just made two years old and is very smart (we’ve been told this by various friends who are teachers). Who knows if BE contributed to my son’s intelligence or not, but it obviously did not effect him negatively. I support Baby Einstein and if you thought that the videos would make your child some kind of prodigy, obviously, you need to spend more one-on-one educational time with him/her. It’s the parents responsibility to educate their child…not any video.

  • Jordan
    May 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

    thats insane, my son loves baby Einstein .. he smiles, he laughs, he mimics sounds. this is a great product for babies !

  • James Vaipan
    May 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    yeah, this is just stupid. The recall isnt my problem, their was obviiously an issue if they really had to pull it. The fact that this lady is fighting propaganda with propaganda is bull$$$$. What better way to get through to the people but to lie to them, right. Make it sound smooth and no one will question it. Its just messed up when people come on by trying to push their OPINIONS down our throat. Anyone can be right…too much grey area…you can always find a flaw, thats just expierence though. Nothing can be perfect. Nothing is flawless. So Disney has been pushing it since 1919 and officialy created his first cartoon, WITH SOUND!, now his hard work is worth billions and its buying out anyone worth the money. now you tell me who is greedy. The one sho keeps the entertainment suppling or the one with their irrational childhood trama expierences with cartoon mice. Now who can tell me a mouch walking around with some music is educational. So we went from the mice opening our childrents minds to the idea of multiple languages and they havn’t turned a year old yet. With all that and much more on my mind. My son is now 9 months old and he LOVES his Disney’s Baby Einstein. He has been watching since he was roughly 3 months old and its obvious he has been learning and becoming more active. I am 100% sure he has not to any extent lost his imagination or his abbility to use his imagination. Matter of fact when compared to the masses by others, thay all have to agree that he is a very happy smart curious child. He loves to learn. loves to constantly flip the newest object over to discover what it can do. When we look a other babies, they are just laying there. Bored. No motivation. These are my observations. but HEY! Go check out YOUR
    BABY CAN READ! Im sure you will all find it very educational. My son watches that and baby einstein.

  • Mike
    June 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Activists make me sick. They are ruining this nation. Glad we got our BE DVDs while we could.

  • Blair
    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Hey Abby with the doctorate in education,
    You spelled “quite” wrong. A perfect example of educated people with no common sense… Much like the ones giving BE a bad name. My kids looooove them and I will not take them out of our library because someone with a DOCTORATE says they are more harm than help.

  • Nani
    October 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Abby: Doubt that you are a PhD in education. Head Start is only as good as the instruction given at each facility, but is surely a step in the right direction. Baby Einstein IS a great tool for early childhood eduction and entertainment. I don’t know why you child was not interested in it, but I do doubt you gave it a fair shake, either at home, or at the head start center. Could it be that you are a head start volunteer, and NOT a PhD? My grandson loves Baby Einstein, and watching BE 20-40 min.dvd’s is hardly comparable to watching the early childhood junk on TV. Somebody needs to sort out her priorities; afraid of being replaced by a set of dvd’s at one’s job is both poorly thought out, and unfair trashing of a product being used by many inner city preschool programs. Next time, do your research, “PhD”.

  • Nikole
    February 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    This pisses me off…My daughter loves baby einstein! She just turned two and is so smart and btw she is starting to talk really well…She knows well over 75 words and already can point out and say letters…Thanks to BE!Its peoples parenting that needs to be on trial. Interact with your children instead of putting them infront of the tv! I have a friend who has a 3 year old boy who doesn’t talk bc thats all he does is watch tv and guess what its sponge bob not BE thats making him slow at speech. If your using tv as a silencer then thats whats going to happen.If you use BE as a educational experience for your child in moderation there is nothing wrong with it! Its the way you raise your children not the educational movies made!Ughhh people are so dumb!

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