If you are like most parents, you may be concerned about your baby’s development. While a child’s intelligence is influenced by genetics, nutrition, exercise, and other factors, you can nurture and increase your baby’s IQ with effort and planning.
How does a baby’s brain develop?
Your baby’s brain experiences explosive growth from before birth to age 4, with their brain reaching 90% of its adult size before they enter school. This is a prime opportunity to help your child learn and increase their IQ.
The brain continues to develop after age 4, restructuring and organizing throughout childhood, and this early brain development period is also a great time to help your child enhance their mental capacity.
10 tips for increasing your baby’s IQ
1. Avoid prenatal damage
If you want to have a smarter baby, avoid habits and substances that can harm their developing brain. During pregnancy, avoid addictive substances such as illicit drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine, as these can interfere with your baby’s physical and mental development.
2. Test your air and water
Lead is known to be harmful to the brain. If you live in an older home, get your air and water tested for toxic chemicals like lead, which can come from old paint and plumbing and seep into your house and tap water.
3. Avoid contaminated seafood
Seafood from contaminated waters may contain toxins harmful to the brain such as polychlorinated biphenyls, methyl mercury, lead, cadmium, and pesticides. Be aware of warnings regarding local fish. According to the FDA, pregnant women should avoid seafood such as swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and other large ocean fish that tend to harbor toxic chemicals.
4. Guard yourself against infections
During pregnancy, do your best to stay away from sick children. You should also litter boxes if you own a cat. Exposure to both can lead to German measles or toxoplasmosis, which can damage your baby’s brain even in the womb.
5. Treat any thyroid issues
If you suffer from an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), your baby may be born with a low IQ. Consult your doctor and take medications as prescribed.
6. Breastfeed whenever possible
Studies suggest that babies who are breastfed outperform their formula-fed peers on mental development tests. There is a clear link between breastfeeding and cognitive development. So, if possible, breastfeed exclusively during the first 6 months of your baby’s life and continue partial breastfeeding until your baby turns 1. If you feed your baby formula, go for iron-fortified ones. Low iron levels are associated with low IQ levels in babies.
7. Talk to your baby
Talk to your baby to stimulate their brain functions. Even if they do not understand you completely, the more you talk to them the more they will learn vocabulary words. Studies have shown that exposing babies to a greater number of words before they turn 3 increases their IQ. You can narrate what you are doing, what you are thinking, and what they are seeing. Talking with a higher pitch and emulating a baby’s tone can help your baby learn language faster.
8. Look into their eyes
Try to make eye contact with your baby as many times as you can during the day. This encourages your child to learn how to differentiate between different facial expressions and figure out how to express emotions.
9. Avoid screen time
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests avoiding screen exposure until babies turn 18 months old. Noninteractive viewing activities can interfere with your baby's language development. Instead of showing them a video, read stories together or use educational pictures and charts to stimulate their brains.
10. Make your baby feel safe and secure
Feeling emotionally connected to you will help build your baby’s intelligence. This is because social attachments and a feeling of belonging help in neuronal (brain cell) development, including the establishment of synapses or connections between brain cells. When kids feel safe and secure, they feel motivated to learn and explore new things.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Stuart A. Can You Boost Your Child’s IQ? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/can-you-boost-your-childs-iq
Cleveland Clinic. The Benefits of Reading to Babies. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-benefits-of-reading-to-babies/
Barclay L. How to Have a Smarter Child. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/how-to-have-smarter-child
Kim KM, Choi JW. Associations between breastfeeding and cognitive function in children from early childhood to school age: a prospective birth cohort study. Int Breastfeed J. 2020 Sep 29;15(1):83. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32993704/
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