It always seemed too good to be true. And now the Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against the man who created the "Your Baby Can Read!" program, accusing him of false and deceptive advertising.
Promoted in infomercials and on the Internet, the program was said to help babies as young as nine months old learn to read with videos, flash cards, and pop-up books.
The FTC filed the complaint against Robert Titzer, the product's creator, as well as the company, Your Baby Can, and Hugh Penton, Jr., who served as president and chief executive officer of the company until March 2010. Both the company and Penton agreed to settle with the FTC.
The defendants began selling their program to parents and grandparents around January 2008, charging about $200 and taking in more than $185 million, the complaint says. In one infomercial for the product, a two-year-old girl is shown reading from the book "Charlotte's Web."
The company, based in Carlsbad, Calif., announced earlier this year that it was going out of business. It cited the high cost of fighting complaints alleging that its ads were false.
Titzer, an educator with a doctorate in human performance from Indiana University, developed the program and appeared in many of the ads promoting the Your Baby Can Read videos and program. He was billed as a "recognized expert in infant learning."
The FTC says he and the company did studies to back up the claims. But the agency says those studies were flawed.
Image: "Your Baby Can Read!" via The Miami Herald.