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Lapware: Software for Babies

  1. #1
    shri's Avatar
    shri is offline Administrator
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    Aug 2002
    Hong Kong

    Lapware: Software for Babies

    Found this really good article on computer related toys, while researching baby keyboards. I've not been able to find any baby keyboards in Hong Kong, only vtech kiddy computers. I'd rather have a proper computer with software which can be changed / upgraded than spend $400-500 on a single purpose kid-puter.

    Read on...


    By Lisa Weagle
    [email protected]

    A relatively new market of software for babies, known as "lapware," is gaining popularity among new parents. While some may think it's premature to put their baby in front of a computer, it's seems preferable to letting them watch a cartoon or video because this new software creates an environment where you and your baby can spend quality time together, learning and having fun.

    Lapware requires parents or caregivers to have their little one sit in their laps (thus the term "lapware"), to help strike a key from the keyboard or click the mouse to start activities. Your child will eventually learn how to manipulate these controls and therefore be able to entertain herself once she's a bit older. As a new parent myself, I see many benefits to such activity. The baby becomes familiar with the computer, which will help greatly once she's older; also, the baby's brain is stimulated from the different games and graphics, which promotes learning. The best is that it's all packaged in a game/toy format, so what appears to be simple fun for the child is actually a wonderful learning tool. And while I understand that there isn't much in a baby's world that is not educational, this play is directed at learning specific subjects in a colorful and lively atmosphere.

    Three popular software products available for babies in the 9-36 month age group are: Jump Start Baby by Knowledge Adventure, Reader Rabbit's Playtime for Baby by the Learning Company, and Sesame Street Baby & Me from Creative Wonders. These products retail for around $20.00 - $30.00, and can be purchased at your local retail or software store.

    Jump Start Baby
    Jump Start Baby is geared for the 9-24 month age group. It takes place in a baby's nursery, which is a perfect learning environment because babies see familiar things and learn from them. The main character, Teddy, finds fun things to do in the nursery, and the mobile above the crib acts as the menu of activities for baby to try. Each object on the mobile/menu twirls in turn, and clicking or pressing a key while it turns causes the associated activity to begin. Some activities include sorting objects on the Color Train, finding Teddy's farm animals and hearing their sounds, dressing Teddy for a variety of weather conditions, joining in a sing along with Teddy's band, helping Teddy finish simple puzzles, and searching for Teddy in a game of hide and seek. In each case, baby (with some help from you), must press keyboard keys on cue to allow the activity to proceed. All of these graphics are displayed with pleasurable sound effects, bright colors and simple patterns, all of which come together to keep your babies attention.

    Reader Rabbit's Playtime for Babies
    Reader Rabbit's Playtime for Babies, designed for infants in the 9-24 month age group, is unique in that you can personalize the software with your baby's name, pictures and voice. If you don't have the time or inclination to personalize the program, there are plenty of activities that Reader Rabbit and his sidekick, Mat the Mouse, can entertain baby with. Some activities include: a storybook activity with four simple stories that include special story-related sound buttons, a virtual kaleidoscope with changeable colors and patterns, a body awareness activity with Mat, a musical drawers section with instruments, and more. These activities are presented with fun colors, large graphics and attractive animation. Also included with the computer CD is an audio CD, with songs from Reader Rabbit and his gang.

    Sesame Street Baby & Me
    Sesame Street Baby & Me was created for babies in the 12-36 month age group and therefore includes more specific learning activities, including attempts to teach the child to use the mouse and keyboard via two entirely separate groups of activities. Keyboard activities provide animation and surprises each time baby hits a key. When baby moves the mouse, the screen changes in a pre-set order, coloring objects and finding surprises, all of which helps baby learn how to control the mouse. Songs, movement games, animal sounds, letters, numbers, and shapes are presented by favorite Sesame Street characters. Some good ones include "Do What I Do Songs," in which one has Elmo and Baby Natasha blowing ****es, clapping hands and waving "hi" and "bye-bye." Another nice feature is that you can add your own digital pictures to Elmo's Goofy Gallery, which already includes a collection of images baby can flip through. This software seems to offer the most in terms of a variety of activities and the range of skills baby can learn.

    For those willing to spend a bit more, Fisher-Price makes an interactive baby keyboard to use with their baby software, called the Baby Smartronics Computer Learning System. It's designed for babies 9 months old and up, retails for about $35.00, and can be purchased wherever Fisher-Price products are sold. The infant-appropriate key-topper sits on your standard keyboard, and serves as an interface with the accompanying software. The specially designed keyboard, with large colored buttons and easy-to-use keys, includes a ball and spinner, which helps to improve gross motor skills. The activities start when baby taps on the keyboard, to which the program reacts. The activities and games are similar in content to those in the other programs reviewed, and provide a large variety of learning opportunities. The big plus is that baby gets less frustrated on the infant keyboard, and seems to stay attentive for longer periods of time.

    You still may be thinking that all this sounds well and good, but does it really help my child? There are a variety of studies that support and reject the effects of lapware on a baby's development. For me, whether it truly helps with learning isn't an issue. It's the time I spend with my baby in front of the computer, simply talking and playing and laughing, that's important to me.

  2. #2
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
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    Mar 2003
    New Territories

    Sceptical about lapware


    I am sceptocal about the use of "lapware" with babies. Having read Jane M. Healy's work, especially her "Failure to connect"
    and other people like Stoll, I decided to wait as long as I could to have my kids log-on. I not only doubt the benefit of computer use for children under the age of 7, I think it is potentially harmful.

    See for more info. on Healy and

    Yes, the time you spend w/ lapware for your child is positive and happy and that's good, but both of you could do about the same things if you looked at a book, played play-doh, played "patta-cake" and you would save money and electricity too :)

    Now that my oldest is 7, I allow her to use a CD-ROM that her school gave her. We use it as a treat, and the quiet that descends on the house when she uses it leads me to understand more of why many people let their 3 year-olds spend hours at a time w/ such material. :)

  3. #3
    shri's Avatar
    shri is offline Administrator
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    Aug 2002
    Hong Kong
    Not to mention hypnotic videos like the Baby Einstein thingy. :)

  4. #4
    twinkle is offline Registered User
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    Aug 2003
    Mid Levels HK
    I dunno. Computers are such a huge part of life now, that we just can't get by without them. I'm a strong believer in getting kids started early in learning how to use the mouse and keyboard.

    It's not to say that we don't spend lot's of time playing and running around and reading books... but anytime mommy or daddy is on the computer, our little one is full of curiousity. So, we got a few of her own software programs. Nothing with complicated dialogues or instructions just yet because she's still too young to have the attention span for those. Only things that react when she does something on the keyboard or mouse.

    Sesame Street Baby is a good one.

    I've heard about Baby Wow, as it has many languages, but I can't find it anywhere in HK.

  5. #5
    shahirakk is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Repulse Bay, Hong Kong
    Has anyone found any good websites which are updated regularly and may be more customisable? sometimes the attention span is short and the most I want to spend in front of a computer with a very young baby would be 10 minutes anyway.
    Shahira KK

  6. #6
    MilkMonster is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Sai Kung
    sesame street podcasts have 5min video clips ('eat your colours', 'brush your teeth', etc.) you can download for free. perfect for when you need a few minutes to pay bills, talk on the phone undisturbed, give a quick haircut, or in my case when I need to clean up the little one when there has been a poop or vomit mess!!

    the best way to get all the episodes is to subscribe to their RSS feed -

    i agree with loupou, tv/videos turn the kids into zombies. i used to be one of those moms that was anti-tv - i still am overall just not as harsh. after my 2nd was born, on a bad day sometimes i really need those 10-15 minutes of quiet!

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