You might remember the ads for “Your Baby Can Read.” This wasn’t “your baby” as in your significant other in countless pop songs — “Rock Your Baby,” for example. No, this product was actually referring to your baby in the sense of the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song about mamas not letting them grow up to be cowboys.
The makers of Your Baby Can Read said their product would indeed enable you to teach your child to read at as young as 9 months. One infomercial showed a 2-year-old supposedly reading from “Charlotte’s Web.” So for about $200, your child could be the envy of every other parent in the playgroup.
But the Federal Trade Commission said no way, baby.
Responding to a complaint from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the FTC accused the Your Baby Can company and the developer of the program, Robert Titzer, with false and deceptive advertising. Your Baby Can has agreed to a settlement with a $185 million judgment, the FTC said.
Most of the judgment is suspended, however, because the company is shutting down, citing “the high cost of fighting complaints alleging that its ads were false,” the Associated Press said.
The FTC said Your Baby Can had no viable studies to back its claims. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told AP: “There is simply no evidence that screen media is beneficial for babies.”
Besides, a 9-month-old who can read would not be nearly as valuable as one who could change his own diaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.