One of the more absurd claims in consumer product history — the notion that a baby as young as three months old can be taught to read — appears, thankfully, to be history itself. Last week, the company behind “Your Baby Can Read” announced that it was ceasing operations, because it had become too costly to fight the litany of formal complaints against it. The company, led by a man named Robert Titzer with a PhD in “human performance,” widely advertised a $200 set of flash cards, books, and DVDs, promising that babies and toddlers could take advantage of a “small window of opportunity” to read fluently and gain confidence.
Hundreds of thousands of people bought in. Then came the backlash, including a “Today Show” investigation that debunked the pledge with the help of leading child development experts. The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, charging that the company’s marketing claims were false.