Schooling the Little Ones: Baby Einstein – My First Signs

Having a nine-month-old child, I have an excellent handle on Baby Einstein and its myriad products; there are DVDs, CDs, games, toys, furniture-type things, the list goes on, and on, and on. The only thing more impressive than the quantity of material they put forth is the quality. Whether or not the DVDs truly enlighten my child I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t mind staring at them for 30 minutes and my daughter doesn’t either. For me, that’s a pretty good sell.

On March 13, they added a new title to their DVD collection: Baby Einstein – My First Signs. The DVD marks the third entry into the Baby Einstein language series. It is currently a very much en vogue thing to do to teach your infant child sign language. Some studies have suggested that children can learn to sign before they can learn to speak (and it’s never bad to learn another language in any case). 

I operate on the basic assumption that if my daughter spends enough time seeing signs (on DVD or in a book) she’ll absolutely learn them, but I can’t say that the Baby Einstein DVD will make her learn them faster (it doesn’t claim to, either). 

What I can tell you is that the DVD is presented well and, true to Baby Einstein form, was engaging for both myself and my daughter (a tricky feat, but one that the Baby Einstein folks are quite good at). Some DVDs in the baby signing genre tend to be cloyingly sweet, peppered with insidious songs and overly peppy hosts. Those DVDs may amuse children, but for parents they are terrifying adventures into TV Land. Baby Einstein doesn’t do that. 

The DVD is hosted by Marlee Matlin, and uses numerous signature Baby Einstein tropes, from the Baby Einstein hand puppets, to the classical music used, to the very cadence and build of the entire show. It’s a perfect example of what has made Baby Einstein popular and continues strongly in the tradition. There’s plenty of repetition of words and actions so that child and parent alike can learn the various signs, but each iteration is slightly different and consequently it remains fresh throughout the time when a single word and sign are repeated.

My First Signs introduces children (and parents) to 20 different commonly used words, including the all-important “mom” and “dad.” The are some bonus features as well (including the ability to play the DVD in Spanish and French in addition to English). 

The DVD also features a much-needed update for the Baby Einstein series: a color-coding method so as to easily determine the age appropriateness of the various DVDs they put out (this one is orange, for six months plus). 

My child has not yet started to do the sign for “dad,” but I’m anxiously anticipating that day, and I absolutely will not mind her watching Baby Einstein – My First Signs until she gets there. Not only does she enjoy it, but it’s absolutely watchable by parents as well. 

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