We all want baby to be smarter but we’re too busy and we don’t want too much hassle (so demanding, aren’t we). Forget about plonking baby in front of an iPhone. Yes, it will help you to babysit junior but even the educational apps will not make her smarter.
There are 2 windows of opportunity where the brain undergoes rapid development. The first brain spurt happens during pregnancy, starting from the eighth week after conception to the fourteenth week. The second spurt starts around 10 weeks after baby’s birth and continues its rapid profusion for around 2 years. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to maximise your baby’s potential so that she will have a good headstart. Isn’t it exciting?
Here are 6 cheap (mostly) and simple ways which will make baby smarter.
1) Create a stimulating environment at home
It is the number of interconnections between the brain cells which determines your child’s intelligence. To increase the number of interconnections, we have to provide different intellectual and sensory opportunities for baby. Make your home rich in colour, textures and aromas. Don’t forget to also make it rich in laughter, conversation and love.
When your older kids bring home their art pieces, instead of relegating them to the far corner of your cupboard, why don’t you pin them up on the walls instead? It will add colour for baby, and your older ones will feel so proud of their work. Dig out your sweaters, scarves and hats to let baby touch and feel different textures. Let baby smell the lovely sweet aroma of a ripe mango and talk to baby about the fruit.
2) Enjoy nature
Take your baby outdoors as often as you can. Mother Nature can teach baby countless lessons. From the rustling of the leaves to the movement of the clouds, baby’s imagination and creativity can be stimulated. Besides, instilling a love of nature and the great outdoors can go a long way in letting him stay active and healthy.
3) Keep moving
Physical exercise helps the brain develop new synapses which makes baby smarter. Take your baby to the playground every day if possible. Reduce the time spent carrying your baby around or putting your baby in activity centres or support chairs. Yes, I do agree that it’s the most convenient way of leaving baby by herself while you are busy, but they do need ample opportunity to move around. Either childproof your whole house and let your baby move around freely, convert an unused room to a playroom and pad it, or get a playpen. Since I don’t have any spare rooms (obviously, with so many kids) I borrowed a playpen to let Kate play in, and rotated the toys offered to her.
4) Learn more languages
Babies are born with the ability to learn an infinite number of languages. The earlier we expose them to a second or third language, the better their ability to master the language. Research has shown that learning more languages does make children smarter. Perhaps mum and dad can speak to baby in English while grandma and grandpa does so in Mandarin. The other set of grandparents can converse in their dialect while the Indonesian helper speaks to baby in Malay. There you have it, she will pick up 4 languages without much effort!
5) Music, music, music
Let your baby listen to all genres of music. Besides the usual children’s songs, you can let baby listen to classical, jazz, pop, mandarin, k-pop, R&B, etc. The broader the baby’s auditory landscape, the better her neural functioning. Go a step further and allow baby to bang on pots and pans to create her own percussion band.
|Singing along to her own music|
6) Eat good oils
We need omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) for the brain to function properly. Children who have sufficient EFAs are able to learn faster and focus better. Just add a teaspoon in baby’s purees just before serving. Rotate between flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil or olive oil (cold pressed). It is safe to feed baby 1-2 teaspoons a day from 9 months.