It seems there are so many products available for babies to help them develop their motor skills and minds early on so they don’t fall behind. It’s really difficult to decide what is best, and even worse worrying if your child is behind. After lots of research, primarily reading reviews from other parents, we decided to forego the Baby Can Read series and just go with Baby Einstein.
Baby Neptune Play Gym
This was one of the first items I put on my baby registry. I tried in vane to get one used, and found one with some of the parts but not all. But blessed are we that good family friends gave this to us at my last baby shower. We had already been gifted a Fisher-Price Precious Planet play gym, but our son showed no interest in it. The mat was very thin, and the crossbars fell over pretty easily. The toys were too hard for him and after a minute or two, he would just start crying. At about three months of age, we broke out the Baby Neptune Play Gym and he fell in love with it! The sounds and the lights keep him entertained, the toys are within reach so he can put them in his mouth (his favorite thing to do), and we even found that he likes the toys independently of the gym (the octopus with the rattle is his favorite). The sound and light machine has velcro straps so it can be taken off of the play gym and used on the crib, too. While these items are often listed on Craigslist and eBay, it’s not a bad one to have brand new.
Baby Einstein Discovery Play Center
My brother and his wife got this for us. It was a favorite for both of their sons, and they thought ours would like it too. He does, but he didn’t at first. We first tried it right when he turned 6 months. He had already been used to sitting in a seat with his little jumperoo, but this one made him more unbalanced as it is very wide all the way around, causing him to either lean forward or side to side since he wasn’t fully able to hold himself upright just yet. He was fine with a couple of the toys, but the ones that made sounds scared him so badly he would just cry. After about seven weeks, he has finally gotten the hang of it all, and can easily turn himself in it. We find he can only take it in 20 to 30 minute segments though.
I’m not sure if I would say this had to be a Baby Einstein item. I have seen several other brands with just as many features at lower prices. Regardless, for the amount of use we get, I would not have bought it new. I have seen many listings for these items on Craigslist and would recommend families buy second-hand before spending full price. I am hopeful it comes to be something he enjoys as he gets older, but at this age, it is just not one of his favorite things.
(Item pictured is not the one we have but the new version from Baby Einstein; I could not find that one online.)
Baby Einstein DVDs
I believe I have saved the best for last. One of my girlfriends gave me two for a baby shower and said they were the favorite for her two kids. I was a bit skeptical, after all, I didn’t want my son spending lots of time watching the TV. However, I had some time before he was coming to join us, so I set out to buy as many online as I could. And I’m so incredibly glad that I did. While parents may get bored of seeing them over and over again (having a variety helps your sanity), the kids seem to love them. We introduced them to our son when he was about five months old. So far, his favorites are the music and colors ones, though he also seems to like the farm (Baby MacDonald).
My recommendation is still not to buy these brand new; there are far too many of them available used online through eBay, Half.com, and Amazon Marketplace. My suggestion to get the best value is to look on ebay first for someone selling them in lots (avoid ones that say “complete set of 26″ for a real cheap price brand new; those are actually copies and most people have been complaining online that they do not work in American DVD players). If you aren’t having luck on ebay (though that’s where I got most of ours), then pop over to Half.com. Look to make purchases from the same seller to save you on shipping (it’s about 1/2 shipping price after the first item). If you still can’t find all the ones you want there, then you can certainly find them on the Amazon Marketplace. Just keep in mind that Amazon does not discount the shipping for multiple items from the same seller, so you may spend more than you need to for multiple DVDs.
Overall, I think Baby Einstein offers great products for enhancing your child’s development, but I don’t think they should be the sole source. Nothing can take the place of all your child will get from their interactions with you. That’s why we read one book a day to our son, even if all he wants is to try and put it in his mouth.
As a side note, we have also purchased Baby Einstein Books and Discovery Cards though we have only used the Mirror Me book just yet.