My mind is officially boggled. I received an email this morning from “Baby Plus: The First-Ever Prenatal Education System” (how this company got my email I have no idea) and was greeted by the heading “Our patented prenatal curriculum is designed to strengthen your baby’s learning capabilities with naturally derived audio lessons. For your child, the developmental benefits of BabyPlus last a lifetime.” Prenatal curriculum? I was curious as to what these life-changing lessons were that couldn’t possibly wait until the kid was at least born, so I clicked on the link.
Here is a company selling moms-to-be an audio system that hooks up to their blossoming bellies. For two one-hour sessions per day, a rhythmic sound is delivered to the baby that…get this…mimics the sound and pattern of Mommy’s heartbeat. Apparently, the fetus learns to discriminate between the artificial heart tones and their mother’s actual heartbeat and thus, their developing brain changes in a way that makes them more ready to learn vast amounts of information when they’re born. All this for the low introductory price of $149.00 plus shipping and handling? What good mother could say no?
I like to approach things with an open-mind, so I went to the testimonials page (under the “What Is It?” tab) to see what test subjects were saying about this pre-natal learning tool. Parent after parent was praising the system, citing their child’s ability to self-soothe at a younger age, their advanced interactive personality, their ability to reach milestones earlier and their increased attention spans. Hmmm…maybe I would be short-changing my child if I didn’t get this product. After all, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t do everything in my power to assure that my child would have all the opportunities to get a head start in life? Then I noticed the varying career titles that these parents held: Registered Nurse, Licensed Psychotherapist, Author, Molecular Biologist, Teacher, Pediatrician, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Medical Doctor. I began to wonder if this BabyPlus really did much of anything to add to the learning capabilities of a child who was the genetic offspring of incredibly intelligent individuals, and raised by people who already specialized in children’s development. If there was a parent on there who had never graduated high school and claimed something like, “I didn’t really spend any time with my kids when they were growing up, and I don’t pay much attention to them now, but I did sit for two hours a day with that monitor on my stomach while I was pregnant. Now I hear my kid’s getting straight A’s in school, is popular with both his peers and teachers, and is class president,” then I’d whip out my credit card and call the 1-800 number .
I’m pretty quick to believe though, that it’s what you do with your child after they’re born that makes the largest differences in their learning capabilities. This is not to negate pre-natal care and nutrition, of course. Those are definitely huge factors in the formation of your little baby’s brain. And it’s certainly not to diminish the beauty and wonder of bonding with your baby before they’re born. My mom said she read “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” by Dr. Seuss almost every day to me while I was in her tummy. After I was born, when she’d read that story to me I would sit completely quiet and engaged the entire time, like I was remembering something really important. Now I can’t wait to do the same for my future babies.
Of course every parent wants to give their children the best possible advantages in life, but after visiting this website I’d like to pose a question: how fuzzy is the line between wanting to nurture your child’s growth, and wanting to create a being that will make you proud because they’re ahead of every other child in their age-bracket?