While you can’t create a smart baby with a recipe, there are things you can do starting in pregnancy that can give your baby the best opportunities for a healthy (and possibly smart) future. So how can I have a smarter baby?
How Can I Help My Baby Reach Her Full Potential?
Helping your child reach his or her full potential starts before pregnancy and continues from there. Starting with a healthy body for mom is the building block for a healthy baby. Make sure that you avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise program. Once you become pregnant, it is valuable to consider these other aspects.
- Prenatal vitamins and nutrients need to contain iodine, found in iodized salt, milk, yogurt, cheeses, and eggs, along with seafood (be careful about consuming seafood because of mercury exposure). Iodine deficiency is linked to much lower IQs in children.
- Vitamin D is also an essential vitamin for helping your baby develop academically. Studies show that babies who are born to mother who had low vitamin D levels score much lower on IQ tests than babies who are born to mothers with adequate levels.
- Fish oil is considered food for the brain, so talk with your physician about adding a fish oil supplement to your daily vitamin routine.
- Bond with your baby, even before she is born. Whether you want to play music to her, sing to her, or just tell her how excited you are to meet her, creating this bond with your baby sets the foundation for emotional intelligence. This emotional intelligence is an important part of not only your child’s emotional future, but it is interwoven with her academic future as well.
- Maintain healthy habits. Continue to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, but also take care to avoid things such as lawn chemicals, garden fertilizers, cleaning supplies, and other household toxins.
Once your baby is born, you have an enormous role in shaping her future. You can give her the best opportunities for academic, emotional, and physical health by remaining connected with her and engaging with her on a daily basis.
- Talk to her often. You are teaching her the rhythm of communication and helping to shape her vocabulary. You don’t need to use “baby talk” – she just wants to hear your voice.
- Listen to her and respond. Babies need connections to others in their lives. When she babbles at you, give her eye contact and talk back to her. When she cries respond to her needs to show her that you are there for her. This is another building block of emotional intelligence.
- Use sign language. Studies show that teaching simple signs to babies does not interrupt their healthy vocabulary and speaking development, it just gives them more tools with which to communicate.
- Breastfeed. Studies show that babies who are breastfed tend to be healthier and score higher on later IQ tests.
- Read to her. Literacy is one of the strongest pieces of academic success and children need to be exposed to books every day – even as babies.
- Give her tummy time to explore. Even though there are contraptions to hold your baby in almost every position imaginable from swings to seats to swivel chairs, it is important that she just has time on her belly to explore. It strengthens her muscles and gives her opportunities to see the world in a new way.
- Count, sing, play, and do it again. Create an environment for your baby where she is stimulated by opportunities to play and you engage with her by counting, singing, exploring, and trying new things.
A baby’s IQ is the result of a combination of nature and nurture. You only have so much control over the “nature” portion of it, but you can do a lot of little things every day to contribute to the “nurture” aspect as much as possible.