The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

March 2, 2007

OFS — Obsessive Father Syndrome

I think it’s already starting…

One thing that I had requested for a gift with the news of the pregnancy was a “BabyPlus Prenatal Education System”. It’s a system which plays varying tempos of a sound similar to a heartbeat to a child in the womb. Starting at 18 weeks or so, it goes through various “lesson” of increasing complexity, which is supposed to help the baby’s brain develop a better abilities of “distinction”.

Now, I’m already an overprotective father who is willing to do anything I can to make sure that my son has every possible advantage in the world. If he’s smarter, taller, more athletic, and better looking than his peers, I’ll be pretty happy. With my wife’s instruction, he may even be well-dressed and socially adept (two things I still haven’t mastered)! This is just one option to get started early.

The only question, though, is whether it works. The site contains glowing testimonials, but that doesn’t mean a thing. If smart people who desire to be good parents buy this and end up with smart kids, is it the Babyplus or the parenting skills that made the kid smart? Correlation doesn’t equal causation, right? Well, week 18 is quickly coming up, so the wife will be starting this program, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

What do you guys think? Am I being obsessive?

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:11 pm || Permalink || Comments (11) || Trackback URL || Categories: Baby, Science, Technology


  1. Obsessive? Probably not. A little silly? Perhaps. I think the best thing you could instill in your child is the ability you have to realize the difference between things people believe are important and things that actually are important.

    Comment by Jim — March 2, 2007 @ 4:24 pm
  2. I think the efficacy of this device sounds kinda shady. Given the amount of experience I have with Developmental Psychology, I highly doubt this thing will do anything but make your wallet lighter.

    Also, there doesn’t appear to be any means by which to scientifically measure any effects (either positive or negative) that the device may have on the child. There is no way to statistically measure that this device does anything at all because there’s no control for the experiment. Without a base group IDENTICAL to the subject, there’s no comparison to be made, thus there’s no way to tell if it has any effect at all.

    Besides, there’s no guarantee he’ll be taller/smarter/more athletic/better looking than his peers…after all, Joanna only accounts for about 50% of his DNA. The rest is from you and, let’s be honest, you’re not exactly sporting the most Huxley-esque representation of superior genetics…

    Comment by Sober John — March 2, 2007 @ 4:44 pm
  3. The mother’s heartbeat is soothing; I think introducing a similar sound that changes patterns will make for cranky baby. Music will stimulate the kind of brain functions you want and there is no need to put the baby next to headphones or speakers. Humming would be just fine. This is not in any way scientific, just my two cents.

    Comment by VRB — March 2, 2007 @ 5:30 pm
  4. John,

    Yeah, I know it’s not easily measurable. I would love to see a study of kids who have undergone this. Of course, the difficult point is that you’d have to take a look at socioeconomic factors and intelligence of the parents, and then see if kids of parents in similar situations do better or worse based on whether their parents used it.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 2, 2007 @ 7:53 pm
  5. My point is this: A study of kids who have undergone this would be useless without a valid control of IDENTICAL kid who haven’t. There is no way that the company can legitimately make the claim that:

    BabyPlus® babies at birth and infancy:
    * Develop better sleeping patterns
    * More readily nurse
    * Have increased ability to self soothe
    * Are more interactive and responsive
    * Are better relaxed and alert at birth

    How do they know the baby is “more responsive” if they can’t compare the baby’s responsiveness both after and BEFORE the application of the independent variable.

    If the variable in the experiment is introduced pre-natally, then no two subjects would be alike enough to compare.

    Plus, you have to take into account that the “ability of distinction,” as they put it, doesn’t really mean much. Distinction of what? The ability to tell that two diverse tempos are different from one another?

    The part of the human brain that controls higher functions (the pre-frontal cortex) doesn’t develop until long after the baby is born. These higher functions include higher reasoning, logic, and abstract thought. The “development” of this area depends more on the child’s experiences AFTER birth more than anything–including, some would argue, genetics.

    Comment by Sober John — March 3, 2007 @ 12:34 pm
  6. That is way too much analysis. Get some decent baby books and think about the advice given by your moms.

    Comment by VRB — March 3, 2007 @ 1:42 pm
  7. “That is way too much analysis.”

    Comment by VRB — March 3, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

    I know…I had some downtime at work today. People don’t buy motorcycles when it’s snowing…

    Seriously though Brad, just raise the kid proper and he’ll be a’ight.

    Comment by Sober John — March 3, 2007 @ 3:49 pm
  8. Brad,

    I agree with “VRB” in that music is probably the best sort of in utero stimulant. When my daughter was born in 2001 we had several healthcare professionals tell us that any “logical” music helps to develop the child’s brain. By logical music I mean the Baroque and Classical eras–Bach & Mozart, not Cage & Coltrane. Again, there’s no science in this as far as I know, but I believe that while the melodies can capture their interest (just like I’ve heard that the sing-songy voice is more stimulating to infants than regular speech) an even more far-reaching benefit would be the larger-scale structure of the sonata form. Of course, to that same end, you could just play The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” That song features a near-perfect example of the rondo form. Then again, you don’t want your son to become a stalker…

    The hospital actually gave us a CD (sponsored by Enfamil–no surprise there) with Classical (along with bluegrass, ragtime, traditional Irish and Romantic) selections. But I think perhaps the most useful point it made was contained in the liner notes by Dr. Lori A. Custodero of Columbia University Teacher’s College. She wrote: “Research suggests that the experiences we have in our earliest years, including active participation in music, are key to the way we think, learn, and relate to others.”

    She neither clarifies nor quantifies this research, perhaps due to the reasons John cited above, but I think the real point is the phrase “…ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in music…” Sing to him (yes, Brad, I am suggesting that you sing…God help us), dance/move/sway while you’re holding him, and play musical games. Granted, my life is frightfully saturated with musicality, but nevertheless I was amazed by my daughter’s ability to pick up on a tune and sing along before she could speak. At age 3, she would make up words to the tune of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (recall what Salieri sings in the mental institution at the beginning of the film Amadeus, or check out the MP3 link at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry). To piggyback on John’s comment, never miss a chance for interaction with the child, remembering that he’s another human being and he’ll be a’ight. So many parents-and this may be merely indicative of the affluence & aloofness in the area where I live-focus more on their interaction with the Starbucks guy than the questions their child is posing.

    If you really want to waste your money, visit for a variety of keepsakes customized with your baby’s ultrasound. Woo hoo.

    Comment by Mark — March 4, 2007 @ 9:54 pm
  9. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the CD was the greatest thing the hospital ever did for us short of actually delivering the baby. Johann Pachelbel’s “Kanon in D” was the only thing that would consistently get her to sleep! And those of you who are already parents know the precious value of sleep (both your’s and their’s) during those first months…

    Comment by Mark — March 4, 2007 @ 10:01 pm
  10. Brad, The baby has whatever is in it’s “genes”. The best thing now is for your wife to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get good sleep and moderate exercise. It would be best if she didn’t smoke or drink while she is carrying that baby boy. TF and I did play lots of music while I was carrying the children and they all love music now. We played lots of good music while they were growing up and that probably influenced them more.

    Good luck! Don’t worry about being overprotective, it is better than being non-participating.

    Comment by Lucy Stern — March 7, 2007 @ 8:02 am
  11. We bought the babyplus system and have struggled with the same thoughts. Is it worth it? Is it really going to make a difference? I figure we can give it a try because it really balances out to $30 a month for the time I can wear it. I’d invest $30 in hopes that it will make my baby calmer and possibly smarter.

    Comment by Stephanie — March 11, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

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