Recent Complaints Allege that "Your Baby Can Read" Products Do Not, in Fact, Teach Your Baby to Read

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in California against the makers of “Your Baby Can Read” products. The complaint was filed on behalf of a class of consumers who purchased the infant and toddler educational programs based on the company’s claims regarding the effectiveness of its products. Television and radio advertisements for the products in question allegedly made false and misleading claims, including claims that the early language development system could teach a three-month-old baby to read by nine months of age, could enable a five-year old to read at a junior high school level, and could teach infants with Down syndrome how to read.

According to the complaint, such claims made by the company simply are not supported by scientific evidence. Criticism of the company’s products and allegedly misleading advertisements, it seems, has grown in recent weeks. TODAY.com reports that the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national watchdog group that previously successfully campaigned to change the way that the “Baby Einstein” program marketed its products, has filed a separate complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that makers of “Your Baby Can Read” have engaged in deceptive marketing practices to convince parents to buy its products. It has requested that the FTC stop the company from continuing its allegedly deceptive marketing practices, and that it offer full refunds to “all those parents who have been duped.”

The problem with the educational products seems to be two-fold. First, doctors and scientists who have tested the products have reportedly found that infants using the products are not reading, but rather are memorizing the shapes of the letters presented. There is no evidence, the class-action plaintiffs allege, that this memorization process increases a child’s ability to read or comprehend. Second, a representative for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood points out that the program is actually harmful to children, as it encourages them to sit in front of television screens and computer monitors, getting them “hooked on screens” too early in life. In fact, the group notes that if parents follow the “Your Baby Can Read” instructions, after nine months, babies would have spent more than a full week of 24 hour days in front of a screen.

It remains to be seen what effect these two recent complaints will have on the maker of the infant educational products and on its approach to advertising. It seems that the old-fashioned approach to teaching your children to read – by reading aloud to them – triumphs.

Comments

  1. A concerned educator says:

    It is disappointing what lengths this country goes to in order to stifle out-of-the-box thinking while continuing to rip children of opportunity and development.

    Science or not, embellished claims or not, my daughter “reads” or “recognizes” (which ever you prefer) both words in the program and not in the program. Currently 26 months old, my daughter’s vocabulary is near double that of my friends 29 month old, and revivals my other friend 3 and a half year old.

    If nothing else, it has taught her to enjoy and engage in learning. Along the way she has picked up all her shapes, colors, and can count to 20. The program got het to use her mind in a way otherwise unused in my opinion.

    If your child only hears sound when your reading to them, then only so much brain development is happening. But my daughter hears, sees, and speaks the words – you cannot convince me that she doesn’t have an edge.

    So whether scientific, “recognizing”, or embellished claims – the program gave my child an early start. Stop limiting your child’s development and start encouraging it.

    Oh, and by the way… you (the parent) actually have to engage the child too – the program cannot raise them for you. Stupid expectation!!

    • joanna uy says:

      I agree with you. My child used this program, too. He may not be a “fast reader” at 4 yrs. old but he definitely has an edge when it comes to comprehension and word recognition. He is even trying to read phonetically. By watching the video, he learned that a group of letters have meanings. His comprehension skills allowed him to learn much more than what the video offered. I feel sorry for the makers of YBCR.

  2. Concerned parent says:

    My baby is now 7 months old and has been studying the program for four months. While I am not an “expert” in any field I do believe I know more than anyone how my child is developing and I can say that with the Your Baby Can Read program, she can now recognize more than 15 words at such a tender age!!

    The video is interactive so we study it together. I read the words to her as they come out on screen. I agree with the review of “A Concerned Educator” and I am saddened that such a wonderful product has come into the crosshairs of extreme product advocacies.

    I’m sure with the number of children whom they claim the video had no effect on, we will also find the same number (or more) of children who happily adjusted to the program.

    Not all kids are the same.

    I hope Your Baby Can company clears its name soon.

  3. at 15 moths my daughter can read over 67 words even words that are not in the program , she sings head and shoulders , ABC (which is not in the program ) itsy bitsy spider , Bingo , Old Mc Donald, count to 5 .. now all i have to do is show her a new word twice and she have it down pat, she love learning.. So please no one can tell me this does not work .. EVERYONE THAT MEET MY DAUGHTER IS IMPRESSED , she say please and thank you , I love you and the list goes on but best of all upon meeting someone she say ” HI Name is Reina ” …

  4. not a scam says:

    I agree with all the comments. The prgram WORKED for my daughter. She watched it for some time starting from the time when she was 7 months old. Now, at 3 years 10 months she reads at second grade level. People who see it cannot beleive. Of course, I read a lot to her, but Your Baby Can Read gave her a real good start. Stop the campain against this company!

  5. I want to say my grandaughter has benefited from this program, she is not even three and a half and she can read and write
    Her spelling is remarkable. Thank You My Baby Can Read.

  6. I am constantly amazed at how sue happy our country is! This program is a little cheesy, and a little annoying. But is it misleading? Heck no!! To be honest, I was skeptical at first like everyone else. My daughter has been watching the videos since 3 months old. We did not follow the schedule of twice a day every day. We did at least 4 days a week 1-2 times a day depending. Then around 6 months we started using the flashcards for about 15 minutes a day. At 19 months old, she has a vocabulary of over 300 words, often forms complete sentences on her own, enunciates pretty well, knows all basic colors, shapes and numbers 1-20. She knows her alphabet, and can read at a 2nd grade level. I have seen her sound out out words faster than a 6 year old and read books she has never seen before. She can read such books as: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?”, the “Little Pookie” series, “Where are you blue kangaroo?” and that is just a few.
    Let me reiterate, we did not work with her endlessly, or forcefully. We did allow her to watch other T.V. as the program cautions against. But I figured, Blues Clues and Sesame Street werent going to ruin her! I love how they say that children are going to end up spending a week in front of a television by nine months of age like it’s so horrible! Yeah, it would be horrible if you let them watch SpongeBob that whole time. But this is all educational and stimulating. Let’s be honest here, just about everyone with small children is going to let them watch “something” on a screen. Are we really going to complain when that “something” is good wholesome entertainment that happens to be teaching your kids too? Nobody ever said that because these kids watch the videos means that their parents weren’t going to teach them as well. I am quite offended at that actually because sure, my daughter watched the videos. But it was because of my working with her in books and flashcards that it went from memorization, to reading. Parents also have to look at other reasons why their child might not be learning at the pace the program says they should. Maybe realizing that just because your child hasn’t shown you they know the flashcards doesn’t mean they don’t know them. It’s kind of like how I know my daughter can walk, I have seen her, but she just will NOT show me she can if I am asking her to show me. Also, kids all learn at different rates so it may take them a bit longer to get there. I am just shocked at the lengths people will go to to get something for nothing! Don’t ruin a good thing people! *END RANT*

  7. In my opinion not all babies are the same. Some will develop earlier and pick up stuff quicker and others are late learners.

  8. Lydia Hubbell says:

    I just heard about this.I am so sorry to hear about this. Babies CAN read but not all babies WILL read. People CAN stop smoking,lose weight, eat healthfully, or control their temper, but if they don’t, does it make sense to punish someone who believes you can and encourages you and sells you products that have helped many others to do those things? I used Glenn Doman’s “You Can Teach Your Baby to Read” with my 2 kids who are now teenagers. I believe prenatal and infant stimulation are helpful. I was one of the mothers who read to and sang to and played music for and massaged my babies before they were born and continued afterwards. My teenagers are considered to be academically gifted and consistently in the top 5% or better on standardized tests. In fact, my son just scored at or better than the level of 100% of kids his grade level in math. His reading level was tested in first grade and they didn’t tell me what level he was actually reading on because they only tested as far as the 5th grade level. I have a 4 year old daughter who is reading “I Can Read” books like, “Frog and Toad,” independently. I occasionally help her with a word, but for the most part, she is reading and understanding and can discuss the stories with me. My children were reading out loud by 15-18 months and before then it is extremely difficult to “test” them. In my experience, children are not always ready and willing to perform like trained seals. It is terribly unfair for Robert Titzer to be treated this way. He had tremendous success with his own children and wanted to share the gift of early reading with children all over. I did buy the YBCR and used it with my youngest. I cannot say that it is more effective than the Glenn Doman method, but it is as effective and a great deal more convenient. All my children watched a good bit of educational television as well, But the most important thing I have done with my kids is to give them time and attention. I listen to them, talk to them and spent many hours reading aloud to them. Robert Titzer was obviously very involved in his children’s lives. He didn’t JUST have them sit in front of a TV or computer monitor. I do know that some kids cannot read the written word. Some kids are blind. Some kids have other problems. But I do believe all normal, healthy children can read and should read. I think the so-called “experts” who think babies cannot read need to spend more time with the children who are doing it. Reading is a complex process. Comprehension is limited by a person’s age and experience in some ways. My daughter who read Harry Potter in second grade got a whole lot more out of it when she read it as a high-schooler. Visual discrimination and memorization are important. My son isn’t as interested in reading as my daughter is, but he reads on an “advanced” level, even as a 14 year old. My 15 year old daughter, on the other hand, always has her nose in a book. I noticed very early (like at 2 or 3 years old) that even though my son could read, he preferred that I read to him, but my daughter at that age enjoyed reading to me! All kids are not the same, but I am firmly convinced that there was no false advertising going on and this company did a lot more good than has been acknowledged.

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