Babies, It's You

updated 12/04/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/04/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

ARE YOUR TODDLERS GOING BERserk? Does your family room look like Rome after the Goths got inside the walls? Do you feel a really bad migraine coming on? Maybe it's time for Babymugs.

Babymugs—a 27-minute videotape featuring 85 babies laughing, crying, drooling or just staring blankly at the camera to musical accompaniment—is a classic why-didn't-I-think-of-that idea that seems to have a mesmerizing effect on real live kids. "I really think the music in it—and seeing other babies smiling—holds their attention," says Lisa Hollwedel, 34, of Folsom, Calif., who has three children aged 18 months to 9 years. "They'll point to the screen and say, 'Baby.' "

The $9.95 video, sold by such national chains as F.A.O. Schwarz, Toys "R" Us, Best Buys and Musicland, is emerging as one of the hot children's videos of the holiday season. Made for just $6,000, it's the baby of Linda Warwick Dalton and Shelley Frost, two young Belmont, Calif., mothers frustrated with life at home.

In May 1994, Dalton's husband, Mike, an information technology manager at Hewlett Packard, suggested they make a video of their 3-month-old daughter, Erica, doing sit-ups. Dalton, now 36, mentioned the idea to Frost, 34, while they were hiking—and the seed of a commercial video was sown. "Our husbands thought we were crazy," says Warwick.

There was one problem: "We had no clue how to produce a video," says Frost, mother of Bret, 22 months. When a producer—chosen from the Yellow Pages—offered to do it for $75,000, they decided to take on the project themselves. They raised money from a garage sale and from their husbands. They handed out flyers asking for baby stars and were deluged by Bay Area mothers volunteering their kids. In August 1994, the first 85 babies offered were assembled in a Menlo Park hotel room for two days of shooting, which was done by a producer acquaintance. The completed video got a huge boost when it won a coveted Approved rating from the Parents' Choice Foundation.

What can Frost and Warwick do to top Babymugs? Terrible Twosmugs? Adolescentmugs? Nope. Right now, their main priority is to spend more time with the own little ones. "We love being moms," says Frost.

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