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Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves DVD Review

Buy Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves from Amazon.com Baby's First Moves

Running Time: 32 Minutes
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006
Not Rated / Producer's Recommended Age: 6 months & up
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps

By Ed South

The Baby Einstein Company is hoping that Santa will find plenty of trees under which to leave a copy of its latest DVD. Well in time for the holidays, Disney released the 22nd volume in its highly successful preschool video franchise titled Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves.
The program attempts to introduce and then encourage physical movement in the youngest members of the family.

At our household, we've had a rocky relationship with the Baby Einstein video line. When my son Elias was born in 2003, we received a copy of Baby Beethoven: Symphony of Fun as a gift. This title (one of the series' earliest) is nothing more than video of puppets and toys set to classical music. We put the DVD on for Elias at a few months of age and it was kind of cool seeing our new baby fixate his eyes on the screen and watch the different little toys and colors move around. We eventually came to realize that the video held his attention long enough for us to get something done around the house or better yet grab 15 minutes of much needed sleep on the couch. Soon we added other titles from the Baby Einstein series into the rotation and before long, Elias picked up counting to five and identifying colors and shapes (even shapes I wouldn't necessarily identify, like trapezoids and hexagons).

Then the addiction started. Elias became obsessed with the DVDs. It's all he talked about and all he wanted to do was watch TV. We quickly cut back on Elias' TV watching, and had to put the Baby Einstein DVDs completely out of sight. We'd still pop one in every now and then and Elias would get completely obsessed with them all over.

It's been about a year since my son has really watched a Baby Einstein show. He's graduated on to "Little Einsteins", Playhouse Disney's spin-off series aimed at an audience slightly older than Baby Einstein's target. But, I decided to enlist three year-old Elias' help for this review. If ever there was an expert on the world of Baby Einstein, it was him. Also on our review panel is Elias' younger brother, my other son Tanner, who is 10 months old. Baby's First Moves, as the title implies, is geared to the very young and Tanner falls right into that demographic.

Can you touch your nose? After watching this DVD, you'll be able to. Touch *a* nose, that is; whose it is remains to be seen. "Let's Move" is one of the four segments which comprise "Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves."

Baby Einstein programs are all made up of five basic ingredients: puppets, real world imagery (photographs), toys, classical music re-orchestrated for young ears, and the soothing narration of series founder Julie Aigner-Clark. All five elements are present here again as the Baby Einstein puppets -- along with photos and toys -- illustrate 17 different body movements accompanied by the works of Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach, and the ever cheerful voiceover of Aigner-Clark.

In Baby's First Moves, the concepts of body movements are explored in four different segments: First Steps, Let's Play, Let's Move, and Keep on Moving. In each segment, a handful of movements are introduced and then individually spotlighted one after the other. For starters, children are shown reaching for items while the kids at home see the word "Reach" appear on the screen and hear the narrator calmly repeating "reach.... reach." Then, a puppet monkey tries to reach for a banana way up in a tree until he spots a puppet giraffe who gives him a hand...or should I say "neck" and reaches the banana. A few more photos and videos of real babies reaching are mixed with footage of toys that illustrate "reach" before the next concept is quickly introduced and the whole process repeats itself.

The variety in this installment seems a little more limited than what I've seen in other Baby Einstein videos. Whereas most of the previous titles have had a free-form flow to them, Baby's First Moves is presented in a very calculated and straightforward manner. The concepts are set up and knocked down one after another with little time for extra bits of Baby Einstein fun to be thrown in.

You too can play peek-a-boo with your TV set. Times have been good to the Baby Einstein puppets -- most of them now have arms and hands.

However much you want to break it all down and criticize it, it's all about whether or not the kids will like it. This kind of programming doesn't play on two levels (like "Sesame Street"); it is strictly for little eyes and ears! My kids overall enjoyed the show.
Little Tanner was smiling away at all the babies on the screen and laughed at the puppet antics. With the help of a nearby piece of furniture, he propped himself up to dance along to the classical music and even tried to mimic a few of the movements he saw on the screen. (If I was being a better father, I would have gotten down on the floor with Tanner and helped him act out some of the moves, but I was too busy jotting down notes for this review.)

My older son Elias was all ready to get back into the world of Baby Einstein after having been away from it for so long. When the show started, Elias was very excited and was narrating the show himself. He was telling me all the things the babies were doing and everything the puppets were up to. But after about 10 minutes, he found himself bored with Baby's First Moves. Eventually, he took to free-style dancing around the living room to the classical soundtrack, occasionally paying attention to the puppet segments.

Tanner has since enjoyed the program a few more times. He lights up when it starts and starts dancing and smiling as soon as he sees the other babies and hears the fun music. Three-year-old Elias hasn't had much interest in seeing the show a second time.

In the bonus feature "Move With Me", fitness instructor-mom Michelle Dozois shows ways to work in some exercise while interacting with your baby. Octopus stars in "Game Celebration", one of five short puppet shows in the bonus features section.

BONUS FEATURES

"Discovery Cards" (4:29) are not flash cards at all but rather a straightforward video that recaps the contents of the feature presentation in one-seventh the amount of time. The images here are a bit more direct in illustrating the concepts.

"Let's Pretend" (2:40) is the most interactive portion of the entire DVD. Using close-up footage of real animals,
children are encouraged to get up off the sofa and move around the living room in the manor of several different animals. Hopping like a frog, flapping your arms like a bird's wings, and slithering around like a lizard are some of the fun movements you can act out with your kids in this brief but fun segment.

Fans of the “Puppet Shows” (3:27) can access five brief puppet segments individually or with the "play all" option. "The Octopus Tap" shows an octopus tap-dancing with all eight legs while a penguin dances by. Riveting! In "Do The Twist", the tap-dancing octopus returns to encourage four computer-generated fish to join him in twisting. Spellbinding! "Soccer Ball Juggle" actually features the octopus bouncing a gravity-defying soccer ball on his head, which really isn't juggling now, is it!? "Animal Dance Party" consists of three unidentifiable creatures bouncing around as if the puppeteers were having seizures. And "Game Celebration" is almost like a mini-movie compared to the other four segments. Here, octopus makes the ultimate soccer goalie as a rabbit (or deer?) tries to score a goal against octopus. It's like Remember The Titans for the diaper crowd!

“Move With Me” (5:41) features Michelle Dozois, a Pilates instructor and mom, who informs mothers they can interact with their babies in a positive way while also sneaking in some exercise for themselves. The ideas that Dozois share seem simple as ways to play with your child, but are interesting and inventive as ways for adults to exercise. In some of the segments, Baby Einstein merchandise is conveniently used as set dressing. "Move With Me" also automatically plays after the feature when using the "play" option from the main menu.

“Toy Chest” is another staple of the Baby Einstein series. Using your remote control, you can sift your way through photographs of all the toys that were featured in the main program. There are 39 toys in all, each identified by name and manufacturer. This feature didn't seem as commercial back when so many of the toys weren't produced by Baby Einstein themselves.

The "Languages" menu is listed as an option here as well as on the DVD's main page. English, French, and Spanish are all options.

"About Little Einsteins" (1:42) plugs the popular Playhouse Disney series that serves as the follow up to the Baby Einstein franchise. We get a chance to briefly meet the main characters as the announcer tells us the benefits of the program. Before it's all over, we are also hit over the head with promos for Little Einsteins books, a CD soundtrack, Game Boy Advance game, three DVD titles and the Little Einsteins web site. Whew!

The main menu from the 22nd title in the Baby Einstein legacy. The bonus features menu opts for very bright colors.

MENUS & MISCELLANEOUS

The disc's animated menus show various locations throughout the house that a child might play in.
The main menu is a bedroom, the languages menu is a backyard playground, and the bonus material menu is a living room. Each screen is colorful, musical and filled with simple little animations. The cartoon versions of the Baby Einstein puppet animals that usually inhabit these menus have been replaced by similar looking children.

From the main menu you not only have the play option but also the "repeat play" option. Standard on all Baby Einstein DVDs, this second option allows the show to run over and over again until you stop it manually or your child gets tired of you ignoring him. It seems silly that the Baby Einstein programs do not have the Disney's FastPlay feature. Instead, you must sit through the Baby Einstein opening logo twice, a promo for Little Einsteins: Legend of the Golden Pyramid DVD, a promo for the bonus feature "Move with Me", and FBI warnings before you get into the meat of the program.

The Main Menu also holds a listing called "About Baby Einstein", which leads to a four minute introduction to the world of Baby Einstein. Here, you'll find parents singing the praises of the Baby Einstein line of products while series founder Julie Aigner-Clark sings the praises of herself. The "tutorial" also breaks down everything you can buy with the Baby Einstein logo on it.

Inside the case, you'll find an insert breaking down the scene selections along with the names of the classical music pieces heard in each chapter. (This information does not appear on the disc.) The bonus materials are also listed, but without an explanation as to what each feature is. A third section on the insert called "As Babies Grow" seems like filler with a few pointless tips about your baby. The other side of the insert reminds you that there's plenty more where this came from, with cover art for 12 other Baby Einstein titles.

A second insert contains many features. First, your invitation and Magic Code in the Disney Movie Rewards program is featured. Two coupons offer a free Baby Einstein DVD by mail when you buy any 3 of the series' DVDs and just plain $3.00 off any Baby Einstein DVD (all the other titles are shown on this coupon). There's a promo for Baby Einstein products like their new developmental feeding products - which look kind of cool actually. There is an ad for the trio of Little Einsteins DVDs available, and most curious is a tease for a third series from the company, this time aimed at toddlers.

Baby Einstein videos should produce moments like this in your household. This little girl demonstrates "crawling."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Baby Einstein series is starting to show its age as far as style and curriculum. The question here is how many of these Baby Einstein videos does any one family really need in their library? The programs are produced with a formula that been used over and over again. The subject matter is the only thing that now sets one Baby Einstein video apart from another. The medium of television comes in handy when trying to teach about animals or transportation or even colors. But when it comes to reaching, crawling, jumping, and hopping... these are things that any parent can teach their children right in their own backyard. At a list price of $19.99, you'd be better off investing that money in an animated classic that will be cherished for years to come, and just go outside (or in the living room) and jump around with your kids.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed November 8, 2006.

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