Parents Who Think Their 1-Year-Olds Can Read Are The Worst

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reading-baby-with-glassesIf you give your nine-month-old baby a flashcard, which do you think is more likely to happen: A.) he’ll study it thoughtfully, or B.) he’ll rip it into pieces and stick those pieces into his mouth, nose, and diaper? If you answered A, you may want to know that the Federal Trade Commission has issued a ruling against the company Your Baby Can Read. Apparently, your baby can‘t read, and if you really thought he could, you probably don’t deserve to get back any part of the $200 you shelled out on this inane program, despite the FTC’s ruling to the contrary. Maybe you can use your share to buy an infant development handbook.

A nine-month-old is at the point of communicating via grunts, screeches, and mouth-farts. The idea that little markings on a page might mean something is about as accessible a concept to him as the theory of relativity (and if you try to tell me that your toddler’s favorite book is a college physics text, I will lose my mind). It’s unbelievable that not only did a company market a learn-to-read product to the formula-and-onesie crowd, but that enough people bought into it to warrant a $185 million dollar settlement. If anything, that money should be given to all the people who were Facebook friends with Your Baby Can Read customers before the invention of the Unfollow option – let’s say $5 compensation for every status update about a two-year-old reading The Grapes of Wrath.

I read to my nine-month-olds every day. They seem to like it a lot, because I’m paying attention to them, there are pretty pictures to look at, and if they’re sneaky, they might get a chance to cram the book into their mouths. I’m not sure how much they’re really getting out of the story of Peter Rabbit or The Little Engine That Could, but for those who truly believe that their little tyke is digesting his reading material in a non-literal way, a commenter on the CBS coverage of this story has some questions:

Good.  Then you can answer a question that I’ve been wondering about.

How did all of your babies communicate that they were reading?

Book reports?  Plot synopsis?  Debate w/you the morality/ethics of the protagonists?  Read a map while you drove and gave you directions on how to get to that new resort you wanted to go to?

At last, an answer to the question of why Johnny can’t read: because he’s one freaking year old. Put away the flashcards; stop trying to convince yourself (and others) that your kid is the smartest, most brilliant toddler in the world; and let your baby be a baby for a while. And maybe use some of your settlement loot to buy a learning toy more on the level of a one-year-old’s cognitive abilities – like an empty oatmeal container, or a jar full of buttons.

(image: Serhiy Kobyakov/Shutterstock)