The makers of the video/DVD system “Your Baby Can Read: Early Language Development System” is going out of business. The product, which has run television commercials, touting their claim that newborns have the ability to absorb reading and spelling skills when they are as young as 3-months-old.
A non-profit consumer advocacy group called “Campaign for a Commercial-Free-Childhood” was at the forefront of challenging such claims, taking their complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and asking the commission to pull the ads and force the company to refund consumers who bought the product based on their claims that an infant can learn how to read and write.
Your Baby Can LLC has been in business for over 10 years. It was started by Robert Tizer, a teacher with a doctorate from Indiana University. He claimed that babies have a small window in which they absorb spelling at an extraordinary pace. Although the claims have never been substantiated through any kind of credible research, fans of the product have taken to resellers with glowing reviews and satisfaction.
The DVD sets, which Your Baby Can LLC suggests parents show to their baby twice a day, costs anywhere from $100 – $200.
After years of legal battles, the company is now saying they have exhausted all their resources leaving them unable to maintain their business while trying to fight the barrage of lawsuits challenging their claims.
The company wrote on their website today:
“Regretfully, the cost of fighting recent legal issues has left us with no option but to cease business operations. While we vehemently deny any wrongdoing, and strongly believe in our products, the fight has drained our resources to the point where we can no longer continue operating.
To our thousands of loyal customers who have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, and particularly to those who took the time to send written and video testimonials about the success stories of their children, we sincerely thank you for being such great champions of our products.”
There’s no doubt that Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood views the closing as a victory. CCFC wrote on their website today in a press release today, in response to I Can Baby LLC’s closing:
“Last year, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to stop Your Baby Can, LLC and its founder and spokesperson Dr. Robert Titzer from falsely claiming that their product would teach babies to read. The video series, priced at $200, encouraged parents to put infants as young as three months in front of screens and was advertised heavily on television. Five months after CCFC’s request for a federal investigation, TV advertising for Your Baby Can Read! stopped completely. The FTC is still investigating the company.
“By making grandiose promises, Your Baby Can Read! exploited parents’ natural tendency to want what’s best for their children,” said CCFC’s director Dr. Susan Linn. “But there is no evidence that screen media are effective for teaching babies anything—let alone a complex skill like reading. In addition to conning parents out of $200, the company’s false and deceptive marketing may have been putting babies at risk.” Research has linked infant screen time to sleep disturbances, attention problems, and delayed language acquisition, as well as problems in later childhood such as poor school performance and childhood obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under age two. If parents followed Your Baby Can Read!’s viewing instructions, their baby would have watched more than 200 hours by the age of nine months.”
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