Your Baby Can Read creator, Dr. Robert Titzer, and his company, Infant Learning, Inc. d/b/a The Infant Learning Company have settled charges that they made baseless claims about the effectiveness of the Your Baby Can Read program and misrepresented that scientific studies proved the claims.
The program was widely touted in infomercials and on the Internet, and used videos, flash cards, and lift-a-flap books that supposedly taught children as young as nine months old how to read. Two of the four defendants, Hugh Penton, Jr. and Your Baby Can LLC, named in the FTC's 2012 complaint previously settled with the FTC.
The stipulated final order announced today prohibits Titzer and his company from making any unsubstantiated claims about the performance or efficacy of any product that teaches reading. It also prohibits them from using the term “Your Baby Can Read,” bars them from misrepresenting the results of any tests or research, and prohibits Titzer from endorsing any product unless he has a reasonable basis for the claims made. Finally, the order imposes two monetary judgments against Titzer and his company totaling more than $185 million, which will be suspended after he pays $300,000.
“Marketers and expert endorsers must have adequate substantiation for the claims they make, and the FTC will continue to pursue those who fail to abide by this basic rule,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
According to the FTC’s 2013 amended complaint, beginning in 2008 the marketers of Your Baby Can Read sold the program to parents and grandparents of children between three months and five years old, directly via a toll-free number and through websites, charging about $200 for each kit, and earning more than $185 million.
The amended complaint alleged the defendants failed to have competent and reliable scientific evidence that babies can learn to read using the Your Baby Can Read program, or that children who used the program can read books such as Charlotte’s Web or Harry Potter by age three or four. The amended complaint also charged Titzer with making deceptive expert endorsements for the program.
The Commission vote approving the settlement was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed final order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on August 18, 2014, and the court entered it the next day.
NOTE: Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Consumer Protection