A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this DVD, which claims that it will "jumpstart your child's speech," combines repetition, simple songs and games, and a perky host in an effort to help babies and young toddlers acquire the basic steps to speech. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as Common Sense Media suggest no screen time at all until the age of 2. While this DVD may not do harm, it offers nothing that couldn't be achieved simply by reading books together. This DVD also runs longer than the 60 minutes advertised on the packaging and Web site -- more like 75 minutes for both episodes.
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What's the story?
BABY'S FIRST WORDS is the first of what is billed as a series of videos from Phonics 4 Babies, designed to "unleash the genius in your child." The two episodes included here are narrated by Mallory Lewis, daughter of Shari Lewis, of Lambchop fame, and herself an Emmy Award-winner for writing in a children's series. Lewis leads puppet Giggles and the audience in simple, repetitive songs and the "D-D- Dog!" exercises that reinforce phonics.
Is it any good?
Lewis' positive approach to both discipline and praise is exemplary for the parents of young children. She cheerfully but firmly corrects Giggles when she forgets to use her words to ask for what she wants, or behaves rudely (as when she says, "You are not rude, but your behavior is. You are sweet and kind").
The producers take the task of teaching phonics seriously, including a tongue-in-cheek warning that exposure to the DVD may cause children to grow up to be President and find a cure for the common cold. A few live-action shots of toddlers following Lewis' commands to "close the toy box" and "shut the door" energize the rudimentary computer-generated animation that backs Lewis and her puppets, the Tummy Tots.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the words that are used frequently in this series, to further reinforce their definitions and how they can be used in a sentence. The host does an excellent job of reinforcing good manners and providing positive feedback that parents could incorporate into their own interactions with their babies.
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