Raising a Smart Baby - Ten Easy Ways to Raise Your Baby's IQ
Is it possible to raise your babies IQ? How can a baby's IQ be measured? These questions then raise an even more important question - WHY would you want to know what your baby's IQ is?
Find the answers to these questions and learn how you can help your baby develop to his full potential. Whether your child is brilliant or has developmental delays, these free and easy techniques will encourage your baby to be all that he can be- without drugs and without costly programs. I like to call it, "Learning a la Naturale."
Photo of my twin grandsons!
What Does That Mean?
In researching Baby IQ, I find that a baby's IQ is measured by checking his developmental milestones. Does he smile, sit up, roll over according to the schedule that all babies are supposed to do these things? Some babies develop faster than others, some lag behind. Not reaching a developmental milestones according to the "norm" can be an indication that there might be a problem. Or it can mean absolutely nothing. So if your baby is one of those lagging behind, is he doomed to a life of not being as smart as his peers? Absolutely not. And if your baby is found to be ahead of the game, does that mean that he is going to be brilliant and the future president of the United States? Again, the answer is probably not.
If your baby is labeled high or low IQ, what can you do with that information? Well, if your baby is labeled "High IQ" you could brag to your family and friends about how smart your baby is. After all, we all want our children to be brilliant and a cut above the rest, right? But what if you get the news that Baby John's IQ is low. Is there something you can do to help him develop? My answer to this question...ABSOLUTELY!
What else can do you do with the knowledge of what your baby's IQ is? You could put a label on him: Smart, or Average, or Dumb. And then sit back and watch if that label plays out. But is this what you really want for your baby? Of course not! I'm really against labeling children of any age. By providing your baby with a rich environment with reading, tactile and visual stimulation, and plenty of play time you will help him develop to his full potential.
Developmental delays occur for many reasons. Time after time, babies have befuddled the medical community by growing and achieving way beyond the capacity that their brain scans showed to be possible. My focus in this article is not to explore WHY your baby is ahead, behind, or average in the game of life, but to give you some simple tools that you can use every day, that will help you to have fun with your baby and encourage the growth of his brain and neuropathways at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Google images via a creative commons license.
Movement and Experience
The Two Keys to Improving IQ
From the moment of birth, and really even before birth while still in the womb, a baby's brain develops by movement and experience. Once he is freed from the confines of the womb and able to move about freely and experience through his senses the world around him, than his neuro development goes into warp speed. Every day more and more brain cells and neuropathways are developed.
What's a neuropathway you ask? A neuropathway is the connection between brain cells and each other and between brain cells and the rest of the body. Think of it as an electric circuit that connects your brain to your body and brain cells to other brain cells. With strong circuits in place, movement is fluid and thinking is possible. The weaker and fewer the circuits, the less movement and brain activity is possible. So doesn't it make sense that if we do all we can do to improve these circuits, the better our brains will develop?
How are those circuits developed? You may be surprised to learn that neuropathways are grown and developed by movement and experience. This is true of babies and is also true with us- at all ages. Brain growth and neuropathways are not developed by sitting and watching others. Plopping a baby in front of the t.v. to watch a video to make him smart is not the answer to a well developed brain. Research shows that babies who are exposed to many different experiences and who are held and carried about, have larger brains and higher IQ's. Research also shows that babies left to lay in a crib with very little movement or human contact, not only become developmentally delayed...they die!
Let's learn what you can do to enrich your baby's life, develop his neuropathways, and grow his brain while enjoying those baby years together. Here is the list of 10 activities you can do with your baby, and most won't cost you a cent!
This is a picture of a nerve cell with extensions spreading out in all directions. These extensions are the basis for neuropathways.
Photo courtesy of zooboing from flickr via a creative commons license.
A Quick List - 10 Ways to Increase Your Baby's IQ
Here is the quick list of activities that will help your baby grow those neuropathways that lead to greater brain development. Read below for an explanation of these activities.
- Breast feed/Nutrition
- Tummy time
- Experience different environments and activities
- Cross crawl
- Sign language
- Turn off the t.v.
How Smart Is Your Baby? - The Importance of Movement
I know that for many reasons, some moms are unable to breastfeed. But if there is any way possible, even for 3 months, breastfeed your baby. More than one study has shown that breast fed babies have higher IQ's than bottle fed babies. Why is this? It's thought to be related to the stimulation of holding the infant, touching, making eye contact. In other words- lots of stimulating the different senses. And stimulating the 5 senses causes new neuropathways to be developed. More neuropathways = increased development.
If for some reason you are unable to breastfeed your baby, never prop the bottle up during feeds. Pick your baby up, cuddle him, touch him, make eye contact, smile and talk or sing to him while he is eating. Remember- the more senses that are stimulated, the more brain growth.
And after discussing with your doctor when to start feeding your little one, try making your own baby food instead of using the babyfood in a jar. Have you ever read the labels on those jars? Lots of things there your baby doesn't need. It is so easy to make your own baby food. After watching someone blend food with an immersible blender for an adult, I thought...why not use those same blenders to make baby food? So we bought immersible blenders for my daughters who had small babies and they found that making food for their babies was a cinch! Very little mess to clean up and they could control exactly what went into the food. And baby could often eat much of the same food that they were eating after a few seconds of blending. Your baby does not need all the sugar and additives found in babyfood jars! Nutrition if vital to the growth of your baby's brain. And starting him out early with sugary additives only sets the stage for future health problems.
Photo courtesy of bludgeoner86 on flickr via a creative commons license
Make Your Own Baby Food - With this simple immersible blender!
Any of the blenders are great to grind up food to make your own babyfood. They are so easy to use and easy to clean up. And don't forget, they make perfect baby gifts for new moms!
You won't believe how easy it is to make your own baby food with this blender. Try throwing some greenbeans and a little water into the bowl, zap it with the blender for a few seconds and presto...home made baby veggies with no fuss or muss and no preservatives or sugar! And this appliance is so easy to clean.
This stainless steel mixing cup is a great way to blend anything without spraying bits of food all over!
Help Your Baby Develop a Taste for Water
Skip the sweet stuff and teach your baby to love water. He won't develop a taste for sweet drinks if they're never offered to start with. Offer water in between feeds, especially as he gets older. Water is essential for our human bodies to function. We are about 85 % water. In order for our brains, neuropathways, and all the other systems of the body to function, we must have adequate hydration. Water is essential for impulses to travel along neuropathways throughout the brain and body. So offer pure, filtered water. He may reject it in the beginning, but one day, when he's really thirsty, and not hungry, he'll suck it down. And his brain cells will thank you for it!
After reading a comment below by a reader of this article, I want to make a correction here. I don't think water should ever be used to replace a feeding time- whether breast or bottle feeding. Some babies are fussy in between feeding times and and I don't believe a small amount of water given between feedings is harmful. But always, check with your pediatrician if you are in doubt or if your baby is not gaining weight. Definitely once a child is on solid foods water is important! Specifically, water instead of sugar sweetened drinks!
Photo courtesy of flickr by joesixpac via a creative commons license.
# 3 Touch/Massage
Touch is so important for brain development. Do you remember reading about studies done on children in orphanages where babies were left to lay in cribs all day, with very little human touch? Many of those babies died.
How can you make sure you are providing your baby with all the touch he needs? Here are some ideas:
-Breast fed babies are always held and cuddled during feeding. So if you're bottle feeding, always hold your baby while he is taking his bottle.
- Try gentle massage, up and down your little one's back, neck, head, arms and legs as you hold him.
- Lay down and have your baby lay on his tummy on your stomach. Put your right hand on his low back and with your left hand to gently stroke down his arms and legs, radiating out from where your right hand is.
-Turn him over on his back, place one hand on his belly button and use the other to gently stroke outward from his belly button to his feet and hands. This is the beginning of helping him to "find" his core muscles. And all movement, including turning over, crawling and walking, begins with the core muscles and knowing where your body is in space.
-Play all those 'baby' games like "Pat-a-Cake" and "This Little Piggy" with him. Make up some of your own.
Photo courtesy of flickr by Scott06 via a creative commons license.
Knowing Your Baby's I.Q. Is Important! - Or Not?
Is knowing your baby's I.Q. important? (Or if your children are grown, would you have chosen to know his/her I.Q. as a baby?)
#4 Tummy Time
I'm amazed today how little time babies spend on their stomachs. Ever since pediatricians linked babies sleeping on their stomachs to SIDS and moms were told to put babies on their backs or sides to sleep, the importance of babies being on their stomachs through part of the day has been lost. Babies also spend lots of time in those infant carriers, propped up on their backs. I've had young moms say to me, "But my baby doesn't like being on his stomach. He cries when I lay him down on his belly." I'm not saying to put your baby to sleep on his stomach. But I am saying, at least 2 - 3 times a day, when you are right there with him, lay a blanket on the floor and lay your baby on his stomach. It is so essential for the development of his head, neck, back, hearing, vision, balance, just to name a few. His back and neck become strong from learning to lift his head up and turn it from side to side. And it's so important to the development of his brain.
Remember, movement grows neuropathways. The more neuropathways, the better the brain develops, and the potential for a higher IQ is increased.
Photo of one of my grandchildren during tummy time.
Let's Rock and Roll!
Put on some waltz music, hold your baby and dance around! Whirling and twirling stimulates so many areas of the brain, works on the balance center, developes the eyes and ears, and the list goes on and on. You say you don't dance? Well, your baby won't care! Just move around to the music. Your touch, the music, and movement will have those neuropathways growing everywhere!
How about putting your baby in a swing for a short while? I have a friend who has a foster son who has severe brain damage. They were told he was blind and deaf, would never be able to move, and would never have any quality of life. She and her husband held this baby, touched him, and rocked him. He was always right in the center of whatever their family was doing. One day when he was about 18 months old, they put him in a swing on the back porch and for the first time in his life, he let out peals of laughter! That swinging motion obviously stimulated parts of his brain that brought him great pleasure. I've also watched physical therapist put babies with developmental delays in a large swing and spin them gently around.
Photo courtesy of flickr by Noahfans via a creative commons license.
# 6 Music for Baby
The beat and rhythm of music develops the brain and neuropathways. We are rhythmical beings and from the moment of conception we are in an environment surrounded by the rhythm and beat of our mother's heartbeat and breathing. After we are born, we continue to search unconsciously for the rhythm of life all around us. Have you ever noticed that you are drawn to music that has a certain rhythm and beat to it? Music that is discordant, with poor beat and rhythm, is usually painful to our ears and we are not drawn to it. Play a wide variety of music for your baby. Music with and without words. Lullabies for calming and to help him sleep. Classical music. Kids silly songs. My favorite: scripture songs with a great, clapping beat.
More Music for Your Baby and Toddler
Combining music with action is a great way to activate all parts of the brain.
my grandchildren love this cd.
My children grew up with this CD-although it was a tape back then, not a cd!
#7 Expose Your Baby to Different Environments
The more experiences your baby has with the world around him, the more those neuropathways will grow. Take him outside, stand him in the grass with his bare feet. Go to the lake or beach and help him stand in the sand, let the waves wash over his feet. Ride in a boat. Go swimming and float him around in the water. Go to the woods and help him to touch the trees and plants. Go to church. Go bowling. Ride a horse. Go to the park. Every chance you get, take your baby along and let him experience life-seeing, touching, feeling, hearing, tasting. Remember, experience and movement are the BEST way to grow those brain connections!
Photo courtesy of ceejayoz @ flickr.com via a creative commons license.
The Two Keys to a High I.Q.
#8 Cross Crawl - A Brain Gym Movement
Cross-crawl is a Brain Gym name for a movement involving touching your right hand or elbow to your left knee, then your left hand or elbow to your right knee. (See the Youtube video below. These are videos of different adults doing a standing cross crawl movement). This movement can be adapted to babies by simply laying them on their back and moving their arms and legs for them. This movement is the precursor to crawling and plays an essential part in all other development. There are "building blocks" in a child's development that lead to a fully developed adult. Cross-crawling is a cornerstone in that process.
To learn more about Brain Gym click here. As a licensed Brain Gym instructor, I have learned the importance of movement and love to teach classes on the Brain Gym movements that are designed to stimulate and grow neuropathways for all ages.
#9 Baby Sign Language
Joseph Garcia, an interpreter for the deaf in the 1970s, noticed that babies who were exposed to sign language consistently beginning around 6 months, were able to begin expressive communication by around 8 months. He has written a program called, "Sign With Your Baby." There are also several other baby signing books available.
It is so fun to see little ones able to communicate their needs in sign language way before learning to talk. I have watched some of my grandchildren do this and it is amazing. They didn't need to cry and whine when they were hungry or wanted more to eat or something to drink. They just signed for it! Amazing!
#10 Turn OFF the T.V.
I know, I know. Turning off the t.v. goes against our modern American culture. In fact, we often use the t.v. as a babysitter. Anything to get some peace and quiet, right? But guess what? The latest scientific research all report that t.v. at an early age is not good for your child. In fact, it is downright harmful. Yep, do some research on this yourself. In fact, this could be the topic of another article! So be different and help your baby to develop to his full potential. Turn the t.v. off and read to him instead. Or lay him on a blanket on the floor with some music and toys so he can learn to amuse himself.
Photo courtesy of treehouse1977 flickr.com via a creative commons license.
Check Out These Great Books from Amazon
Here are a few books that can get you started on the right path with your baby.
Free and Easy
Just Like I Told You
As you can see, all of these activities are free and easy! Well, you might spend a little money on music and a baby sign language program, but even these can be borrowed from the library. All of these activities have proven to raise a baby's IQ by helping him to form and develop more neuropathways . Babies that are stimulated in these playful ways score higher on the developmental tests than other babies and have lots of neuropathways in place for further learning to take place as they get older. So give these ten activities a try to see what happens.
Personally, I couldn't care less what my children's IQ was. I wanted them to be able to reach their full potential. I wanted them to be able to reach out to the world around them and serve God wherever He sent them. Some of these things I did with my children, not knowing that I was helping their brain to grow. Other things I learned after my children grew up. And now I see a whole new generation of kids, many of them raised in front of a t.v. by parents who want to help their children develop to be all that they can be but have no idea how to go about that. It is my hope that this article will give new parents and grandparents some simple and easy ideas to use to help their children develop strong brains!
Another Book About Moving to Learn
Here's Another Helpful Article
This is another great article on specific things to do to help develop your baby's brain. Lots of good info!
- Raising Creative Children
This article was written by lensmaster ismeedee.
I'd love to hear what you think about raising a baby's I.Q. and if you found this page to be helpful to you as a parent or grandparent.