Advocacy Group Targets Baby Einstein

WASHINGTON The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the advertising for Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos for infants and toddlers is false and deceptive because the products are promoted as educational, the Boston-based consumer advocacy group said.

The group wants the FTC to prohibit any claims that say the products will enhance a baby’s learning and development, and it is asking that all ads, packaging and Web sites for the products carry the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation which says there should be no screen time for children under 2.

“Parents need honest information,” said Susan Linn, a co-founder of the group. “They have a right to know that baby videos aren’t really educational and may even be detrimental to their babies’ development. Just because the marketing and media industries want to lure babies and toddlers to screens doesn’t mean that Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby can mislead parents about the benefits of their products.”

The consumer group in January had teamed up with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to announce their intention to sue Kellogg and Viacom for marketing unhealthful food to children.

Concern about Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos has grown more urgent since a December study by the Kaiser Family Foundation titled “A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers” said there was no scientific research to back up educational claims made in many baby-learning products. The study said the “main tool many parents have to assess the quality of products for in-home use is the products’ own marketing and advertising.”

Brainy Baby said in February that it planned to change its tagline from “A little genius in the making” to “Learning for a lifetime,” in response to the issues raised in the Kaiser report, president and CEO Dennis Fedoruk said at the time.