Every parent would like to see their children do well in school and succeed socially. However, every child is different and will have different strengths and weakness. As a parent, though, you can help to foster your child's intelligence right from birth. It may not ensure that your son or daughter will one day be an honor student, but it will help with primary brain development to give them a better shot at success in the future. Here are some things you can try with your child to start them off on the right foot.
1. Move your baby more.
Baby IQ is mostly measured by how quickly/easily your child meets developmental milestones like rolling over or picking up a toy with one hand. These indicate that the brain is developing at a normal or above-normal rate. However, milestones occur differently for each child. You should not worry if your child is a month behind-- they have plenty of time to catch up. But, you can encourage the development of the neural pathways needed for these milestones by making sure your baby moves.
Movement is one of the primary ways that babies learn. They are developing muscle strength and muscle memory with nerve pathways in the brain. Therefore, it's best to interact with your baby during tummy time, encourage them to stand with help, move their arms to the beat of music, and provide them with toys that will motivate movement. Try to limit the time your baby spends in a swing or stationary seat while they are alert, as these will not help them move.
2. Maintain a strong emotional attachment with your baby.
Research shows that strong positive emotions help to stimulate learning. This is even true for infants. Develop a communication pattern with your child. Make eye-contact with them when you speak to them and spend plenty of quality time with your baby on a daily basis. Respond immediately to the needs of your baby whenever possible-- you will learn the different cries he or she has for different needs. Responding to these needs quickly establishes a bond of trust. Skin-to-skin contact is another way to foster this early relationship of trust.
Don't worry about a baby being "spoiled" because you respond quickly to his or her crying. The confidence developed by this relationship with the parent helps a child to be more self-sufficient later on.
3. Talk with your baby.
Talking to your baby is more effective than any other form of communication for developing speech, including reading books or watching educational programs. Babies learn language best from social interactions-- especially from everyday interactive speech. Because a baby doesn't talk back at first, many parents don't really try to talk with their baby. But, even when you are at the grocery store, you can engage your child in what your are doing, by saying things like, "How many bananas do we need?" and then answering, "I wrote three on the list." Make eye contact and respond to early babbling. This early conversation between parent and child develops language six times more effectively than if your baby were to just listen to you and your partner or other adult friends talk to each other.
When you do read books to your child, be sure that you make the book a conversation point instead of a monologue. Take time to explain the story and to measure your baby's responses. Also, you will will benefit from reading the same few books over and over with your child, as this practice will help to improve long-term memory skills.
4. Breastfeed if you can.
Beast milk is designed specifically for the developing body and brain of your baby. Your body and the body of your baby interact in a way that allows for the perfect nutritional balance in breastmilk. Studies show that children who are breastfed longer than six months usually score an average 3.8 IQ points higher than their peers by the time they are in preschool. Unfortunately, not every woman is able to breastfeed, but babies who are not breastfed still have plenty of opportunities to learn and develop.
For more ideas, you may want to contact a local nursery school that works with young toddlers and infants, like Brant Children's Centre Nursery School.