Can babies learn to read? A randomized trial of baby media

Susan B. Neuman, Tanya Kaefer, Ashley Pinkham, Gabrielle Strouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Targeted to children as young as 3 months old, there is a growing number of baby media products that claim to teach babies to read. This randomized controlled trial was designed to examine this claim by investigating the effects of a best-selling baby media product on reading development. One hundred and seventeen infants, ages 9 to 18 months, were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Children in the treatment condition received the baby media product, which included DVDs, word and picture flashcards, and word books to be used daily over a 7-month period; children in the control condition, business as usual. Examining a 4-phase developmental model of reading, we examined both precursor skills (such as letter name, letter sound knowledge, print awareness, and decoding) and conventional reading (vocabulary and comprehension) using a series of eye-tracking tasks and standardized measures. Results indicated that babies did not learn to read using baby media, despite some parents displaying great confidence in the program's effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-830
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 24 2014


  • Baby media
  • Early literacy
  • Eye tracking
  • Reading
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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