'Your Baby Can Read' Program Advertisements Are a Dirty Lie

Your Baby Can ReadMothers of babies! Are you tired of all the time-consuming work required to properly care for and entertain an infant? Have you grown sick of the hours upon hours of endless feedings, diaper changes, and brain-melting games of peek-a-boo? Well get ready to put your feet up and get out the bonbons, because with the innovative Your Baby Can Read program, your baby -- once a helpless creature depending on your for his or her very need -- will be too busy reading Harry Potter to bother you!

Okay, so that's not quite the claim the "Your Baby Can Read" people made … but the advertising for the program did assert that for a mere $200, babies as young as nine months could learn to read. Sound too good to be true? Yeah, that's what the FTC thought, too, because they've slapped the Your Baby creator with one hell of a lawsuit.

Can you say "$185 million dollars"? I knew you could!

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You've probably seen the Your Baby Can Read program in stores or on informercials -- you know, the box with the AS SEEN ON TV! graphic that features a baby wearing a graduation cap? The program (which retails for about $200) uses a combination of videos, flash cards, and pop-up books, and was heavily marketed on television and social media outlets.

One of the informercials depicted a "home video" of a two-year-old reading Charlotte's Web. The child's mother then appeared, raving about how her child went on to fall in love with her first Harry Potter book when she was three.

Some of the advertising even claimed that waiting to teach reading can put children at a disadvantage:

Waiting until the age of five or six to learn to read misses a key developmental window in a baby’s life.

The Federal Trade Commission has called major bullshit on the Your Baby Can Read claims, accusing the creator of "false and deceptive advertising," including deceptive expert endorsements and flawed scientific studies. Your Baby Can, LLC, announced earlier this year that it was going out of business, and has agreed to settle with the FTC for a $185 million judgment.

Personally, I'm not remotely surprised to hear that the Your Baby Can Read program may have made false claims, but I sure don't understand how the rules of advertising work. I mean, would the company have been in the clear if they'd added "results not typical" in small print? Because that obviously works for diet pill claims, right?

At any rate, the fact that the program is no longer available is probably good news for upset consumers, who had been racking up complaints about the products at Consumer Affairs.com, giving it an overall rating of 2 out of 5 stars. Not that they're getting their money back, of course. Chalk that payment up to a parenting lesson learned: babies can do lots of awesome things at nine months, but reading probably isn't one of them.

Had you heard of the Your Baby Can Read program? Are you surprised about the FTC's accusations?

Image via Toys R Us

 

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