You want to give your baby an advantage in intelligence, everyone does. And you've heard of plenty of brain-boosting suggestions, from playing Mozart for your baby in-utero to breastfeeding. But, do they actually work and if they do how much will they really impact your little one? Let's find out if these common IQ suggestions are myth or fact.
14 Genetics Contribute to IQ : Fact
Genetics play a big role in what kind of intelligence your child will be gifted with, but researchers have yet to find any of the specific genes that are responsible. On the other hand, genetics doesn't paint the whole picture. The old idea was that genes contributed some IQ points, and the environment and other social factors that parents control provide the other IQ points. Yet, research from 2013 suggested a new idea, that the genetics a child inherits and the environment that they grow up in interact with each other to develop intelligence. This means that the development of intelligence is a very complex process that is hard to predict. Despite this, there are some things that researchers are pretty sure help or hinder your little one's mind.
13 Mozart in Utero: Myth
As Professor Rauscher told Scientific American, "I would simply say that there is no compelling evidence that children who listen to classical music are going to have any improvement in cognitive abilities." There's no reason not to play your child classical music of course. And some researchers think teaching a child to play a musical instrument is a great way to sharpen their intelligence. Just don't expect much from playing Mozart for hours on end during your pregnancy.
12 Breastfeeding: Myth
Research done in 2007 suggested that a child's intelligence would benefit from breastfeeding if they had a certain gene, called FADS2. However, because mothers with socio-economic disadvantage are less likely to breastfeed and less likely to have children with above average intelligence, it was challenging to sort out whether poverty was causing lower intelligence, or whether bottle-feeding was. However, research conducted in 2015 was able to overcome this obstacle by using twins, who share socio-economic advantages with each other. This study found no significant difference between the intelligence of babies who were breastfed and those who were not. One researcher involved in this study told Telegraph, "Comparatively small events like breastfeeding are very unlikely to be at the core of something as big and complex as children's differences in IQ."
11 Secure Attachment: Fact
Instead of short-term measures, long-term measures are the most likely to effect your child's intelligence. Among these variables, a secure bond between you and your child is very important. Emotion can aid a child's learning, or hinder it, according to Pat Wolfe, author of Building the Reading Brain, PreK-3. Your child learns by watching and interacting with you, and if this is a happy experience where children feel comfortable and able to fail, they'll learn. If children are under stress, especially long-term stress, their amygdala will actually reduce their ability to learn (as a coping mechanism).
10 Baby Talk: Mostly Fact
That high-pitched baby talk you use to talk to your baby is actually very helpful for their developing minds. Researchers at the University of Washington found that babies were more likely to listen to this baby-talk then regular adult conversation, and that the elongated vowel sounds make the language easier for the child to pick-up. Baby talk won't effect the long-term intelligence of your child, but it will make them faster at learning language.
9 Educational Programming: Myth (For Young Children)
Pediatrician Anatoly Belilovsky tells parents that educational programming for children under three years old is not effective. Children this young may be pleased by the colours and noises of the TV, but they don't actually understand the content. Children a little older understand more, but think television characters live inside the TV. This doesn't mean that television is bad for children, it just means that educational programming will not boost a young child's IQ.
8 Attending Preschool: Fact
Especially for families without many resources, attending preschool can give a huge boost to a child's development. In particular, if a child's parents are involved in their school-life and learn new teaching methods from their child's school-teacher, the child is more likely to develop a strong IQ.
7 Second Languages: Mostly Myth
Research conducted in countries were bilingualism is common have demonstrated that it offers no boost to intelligence. Professor Ellen Bialystok told Scienceline that her research shouldn't be interpreted to suggest that bilingual people are smarter, although people often make this mistake. Instead, it offers a boost in executive function, essentially the ability to switch between two different tasks or two sets of rules. General IQ is unaffected, but you may want your child to have this executive function boost anyway, it makes them less reckless as teenagers. Also, there are some benefits to bilingualism for the elderly, it may delay age-related dementia.
6 Lego, Blocks, and Building Toys: Fact
Playing with building toys improves a child's spacial skills, a component of IQ tests. You may think playing with blocks isn't very challenging, but Brain Verdine's research has proven that building block tasks can be very challenging, even for three year olds. Practice will hone their intelligence and also improve their problem-solving, coordination, and even social skills when they play together.
5 Fancy Toys: Myth
Experts are sure that babies don't need fancy toys to develop their brainpower. They do need a stimulating environment, but inexpensive toys can be just as good for their development. Indeed, parents should be critical if a specific toy claims to have brain-benefits. It's likely that the same benefits could be gained from similar toys, or simply from interacting with their parents and their world. In fact, if your baby finds that fancy toy overstimulating or distressing they aren't likely to learn from it.
4 Omega-3 fatty acids: Fact
According to a 2013 meta-analysis (where researchers look at all previous research and make conclusions) omega-3 fatty acids have benefits for pregnant women and their fetuses, including minor intelligence advantages for the baby. Children of all ages who are low in omega-3s could see intelligence benefits if this nutritional need is met.
3 Complimenting a Child's Intelligence: Myth
When you child hits a new intelligence milestone you'll naturally be excited to praise them. But, telling them simply that they are smart is not giving them the most effective message to help cultivate their mind. Instead, be more specific and tell your child that you're proud of them when they've asked questions, when they kept trying to read a word even though it was hard, or when they returned to a task that they found difficult. Doing this will help encourage them to keep learning and developing their intelligence, even when its tough.
2 Interaction: Fact
Sparking your child's interest in the world, and actively exploring things with them, is the best thing you can do to foster their intelligence. Reading books together, playing games together, and even describing things to them will have a huge benefit on their IQ. In particular, as your child gets older it is helpful if you take the time to learn with your child when they bring you things or point things out to you. This is what researchers call "joint attention" moments. If you increase the time you spend engaging with your child you'll increase their intelligence.
1 Keep Your Child Busy: Myth
Some parents want to keep their child busy at all times, shuttling them from one activity to the other, or putting them in front of the TV screen at the first signs of boredom. But when children are given some free time to explore their interests they learn the basics of creativity. Besides, an overstimulated child is unlikely to learn.