The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is taking on Your Baby Can Read. The company tells parents in infomercials that their baby can learn to read from watching the company’s videos, which are similar to flashcards. This is deceptive marketing that preys on vulnerable new parents who just want to give their baby the best possible start in life. The company lies to sell its product.
It doesn’t work and, in fact, there is growing evidence that putting babies in front of videos can delay language development – especially when it means reduced face-to-face time between parent and baby. For example, recent research reported out of the University of Washington found that every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos (Time magazine). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies before the age of two.The best way to teach a baby language is to talk to the baby. It doesn’t cost a thing and works best.
It appears that included in this company’s expensive package are also flashcards that a parent can also use to teach a baby to read. This package is expensive nonsense. Research also shows that babies learn through creative play. Not rote memorization of flashcards.
The CCFC is the organization that forced Disney to give refunds to people who had purchased Baby Einstein videos when the Federal Trade Commission found they had engaged in deceptive marketing. Help them out here and send a letter to the FTC:
(As a matter of disclosure, I have supported the work of CCFC with financial contributions since my children were infants.)