It was about a year and half ago (or maybe more) when my wife started using this prenatal education device called BabyPlus. We were both highly skeptical that a machine that really adds up to no more than a drum machine could give an infant such a intellectual head start in life. But we bought it and my wife used it almost every single day and night for over 18 weeks until just before Haruka was born.
The claims that the company makes about the product is quite incredible. And it seems that no matter which review you read, it was nothing but glowing raves about how the product produced such a perfect, well-behaved, and intelligent baby. The amount of euphemistic reviews of the product often makes you wonder if there’s some kind of BabyPlus cult out there and that this device actually served to brain wash little babies into becoming cabbage worshipers when they become adults. Either that, or these people were being paid to write hundreds of positive reviews on several internet sites using various aliases. Or perhaps the product actually DOES work? My personal assessment? Well I will save that for the end, but first let’s look at the claims:
- Babies are born more alert; often with very little crying.
- Babies sleep better, and many will often sleep through the night in just a few weeks
- Ability to self-soothe and put him/herself to sleep
- ability to develop language quickly
- meet milestones faster
- larger vocabulary at an earlier
and so on and so forth. Well, for those who have been following this site from its beginnings, you’d already know that Haruka wasn’t an easy baby to care for shortly after birth. She was colicky (cried often without cause, and difficult to calm down). She didn’t take to baby formula right away and often spit up. So right out of the starting block, BabyPlus didn’t seem to be living up to its claims.
However, after a couple months, we did notice some changes. At only 8 weeks, not only were we able to carry Haruka upright, she often wanted to stand up (of course with support). That was the first sign that she was developing more quickly than the other babies of the same age. Additionally, we noticed that she was cooing and making noises much earlier than most milestone calenders indicated.
However, although her physical development seemed to be coming along nicely, she was still quite difficult. Getting her to bed every night needed a minimum of an hour. She could quite literally cry for several hours before she tired out and went to sleep. Her colic persisted until about the fourth or fifth month, after which it died down quite dramatically.
At four months old, she was able to roll over in both directions, and sometimes even drag herself a few inches. She was finally able to sleep through the night through a set routine of feeding, wrapping, and swinging, but still cried often and could not go to sleep on her own unless she was in a car or on her swing.
At about four and a half months old, Haruka was able to sit upright unassisted. This was quite a surprise to everyone because she showed no prior signs or hints that she was even about to sit up on her on her own. It was as if someone turned on a switch and she was sitting.
At five and have months old, she was able to grab a piece of furniture and stood up on her own for the first time. At this point, she still had yet to learn to crawl, and was still dragging herself around the room. A few days later, she was cruising around the room swinging from furniture to furniture. It wasn’t until six months when she finally was able to learn to crawl properly.
After a short period of being able to crawl rapidly to get from point A to point B, Haruka was able to stand up unassisted at 8 months old, and it only took a week and a half until she was taking her first steps. Three weeks later, she was running around the living room.
At this point, it seemed as if her physical milestones came far ealier than her intellectual milestones, until one day she was able to wave her hand and say bye bye. Although not too clear at times, she does mumble the words. She does say it while waving, and when she or someone else is leaving, which means she understands the context of the words and when to use them, as opposed to just repeating what we say to her.
Between ten and eleven months old, Haruka became a very skilled walker and a fast runner. She even managed to crawl up some stairs on her own. She has a pretty good understanding of what we are telling her, and responds to commands. For example, she knows to claspe her hands together before and after eating (a Japanese custom). She also knows to bow to a person whom she’s meeting (a Japanese greeting). However, she has yet to learn to self-soothe nor can she consistently sleep throughout the night. She doesn’t cry like she use to; she cries only if she wants something, sleepy, or hungry…or obviously when she hurts herself.
At a year old now, she still has trouble staying asleep at night, often waking up several times a night. Not too sure what’s going on here, but then again, Haruka has never been a very sound sleeper. She is still unable to put herself to sleep, and requires one of us to hold her until she falls asleep.
So, Did BabyPlus REALLY Work? In my opinion, Haruka would have probably turned out the same regardless of whether or not we used it. I believe that all of her traits (both negative and positive) are purely genetic, and I think there’s more scientific evidence to support my theory than the claims BabyPlus makes about their product. If you have a history of colic or difficult infants in your family, changes are pretty good that your infant will carry on those traits, and no amount of BabyPlus’ing is going to change that. Any so-called benefits accheived from using baby plus is coincidental.
BabyPlus developed a very good money making product, because it successfully appeals to the emotions and hopes of the parent to be. EVERY parent wants their child to be intelligent, and $120 is just cheap enough to be in reach of most household incomes, and yet pricey enough so that it’s not easily discredited as being just a gimmick or a toy.
Unless there was a way of cloning a fetus and raising them in two different wombs, one exposed to BabyPlus and the other unexposed, there is no way to prove or disprove the results or there lack of, achieved by this product. Each baby is a different individual with different personalities, so there is no way to conduct a controlled experiment since the factors vary so greatly. So unless there is conclusive scientific evidence to definitively prove the validity of the claims made by this company, there is no way really know for sure if it works or not. If the baby displays even the slightest bit of intelligence, I wouldn’t automatically assume that its the result of the nightly drum concert the baby receives, and due more to good genetics. Like-wise I wouldn’t blame a difficult infant, or an infant who meets milestones relatively slower than others on BabyPlus either. I sincerely think that all this product serves to do is make noise, maybe at the very most, help put the baby in the womb asleep, or maybe keep it awake.
Would I recommend it? Short answer is no. That is to say not unless BabyPlus can produce more credible evidence to suggest that it does work, rather than just an internet forum flooded with testimonials from overly proud parents boasting of great results, whom I suspect got some leading from BabyPlus. My suggestion is to use the $120 to buy some books and maybe even Mozart and get the baby off to heardstart by playing music and reading to them while still in the womb.
Haruka at the park