15 ways to help your baby grow up to be super intelligent

By Jo Middleton, from Slummy Single Mummy blog


Ask any pregnant woman or new parent what they want for their baby, and they’ll probably say something like ‘as long as they are healthy, that’s all I ask.’


I mean, sure, I’m not saying anyone wants an unhealthy baby, but most people have ambitions for their children that go beyond a sturdy immune system. We want them to be happy, successful, ambitious, intelligent.


You might think that you’re either born smart or you’re not, that it’s down to simple genetics, and out of your hands, but it’s absolutely not. There are a lot of things that you can do, and although they won’t guarantee a teeny tiny Einstein, they will certainly give your baby a boost, and increase their chances of being the next… er… *insert name here of someone smart enough to think up the name of someone really smart*.

I did some research, and asked some other parents, and between us we’ve come up with 15 things you can try, that may or may not help. Some should be taken more seriously than others…

1 – Make sure your baby is a first born.

This one is a little bit tricky, as obviously you can only do this once, and you don’t have a lot of control over it, but research from the National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway[1] has shown that eldest children do have a slight edge when it comes to IQ. This higher IQ translates into achievement as well – 12 people have walked on the moon, and what do they have in common? (Apart from having walked on the moon obviously.) They were all first born or only children.

2 – Be smart yourself

Another tricky one. The impact of genetics on intelligence is hard to study, as it’s incredibly tough to separate nature from nurture with something so complex. Given the impact of our genes on so many aspects of our lives though, it would seem reasonable to assume genetics has at least some part to play in determining a base level of intelligence.

3 – Talk to them This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how many parents sort of ‘forget’ to properly engage with their children. “Talk to them!” says Polly Davies, who writes at Enchanted Pixie. “It’s simple but true. I’ve had loads of people comment over the years on the fact that we talk with our kids when we’re out and about!”   4 – Get a cat Not because a cat can impart loads of wisdom or teach algebra or anything, but according to a study by Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, of 600 students[2], cat people are smarter than dog people. You heard it here first.  

5 – Fill your house with books

As if I needed an excuse! Rachel Buchanan, from Little Pip, thinks reading is key. “We make sure our daughter has access to her own books,” say Rachel, “both current, age appropriate and ones that are more wordy, as well as access to ours, and sees us reading for pleasure.”

6 – Use your imagination

Books, we’re on it, but how about making up your own stories? It’s a great way to teach children the value of their imagination, and in a world dominated by technology, that’s definitely not a bad thing. “Read lots to them, as much as possible,” says Gill Crawshaw, who writes at A Baby on Board, “but make up lots of imaginative stories too.”

7 – Breastfeed

The breast vs bottle debate continues to rage, but research led by Duke University, Durham[3] shows a link between prolonged breastfeeding and higher IQs. It’s an excellent excuse for an extra piece of cake too – ‘I need it for the milk!’ – so what’s not to love?

8 – Eat well

Laura Schwormstedt, who writes at Sidestreet Style, would put diet at the top of the list. “It’s important,” she says, “to provide a healthy and varied diet that meets all their developmental needs in terms of nutrients and vitamins.” She could be right. It’s not just quality either, but quantity too. One cross-sectional study of over 1,000 pre-school children[4] found that children with higher BMI tended to have a lower IQ.   9 – Nurture a sense of humour Here’s a funny one, (see what I did there?) – a study of 400 students, conducted by the University of New Mexico in the United States[5], found that the smart ones were also the funniest. Is this humour leading to intelligence though or the other way around? As with most of these relationships, it’s pretty hard to say, but funny children are cute, so give it a go anyway.   10 – Liberate your mind A paper from the London School of Economics and Political Science[6] found that liberal thinkers were also more intelligent. Now, we’re not telling you who to vote for, of course, we’re just sharing the science.   11 – Bin the bible? This same research found a link with religious beliefs. The causal relationship here though most likely starts with IQ as the study found “that adolescent and adult intelligence significantly increases adult liberalism, atheism, and men’s (but not women’s) value on sexual exclusivity.”   12 – Make a fool of yourself. Time to lighten the mood. “Sing songs, give lots of eye contact and make funny faces,” says Molly Forbes, who blogs at Mother’s Always Right. “It may feel silly but your baby will love it as the early days are all about reading facial expressions – nothing is more interesting than mum or dad’s face to a baby!”

13 – Sign up for music lessons

If music be the food of love, order three courses – that’s the message here. OK, so it’s a rather confused message, but essentially music lessons have been shown to positively impact a child’s IQ, facilitating learning and enhancing skills that kids use in other areas of life. Evidence for this comes from a range of sources, including a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School[7].

Top tip – don’t pick the violin if you want a peaceful house.

14 – Limit ‘bucket’ time

Not that you’d put your baby in an actual bucket – this means things like car seats, buggies and anything else that limits their movement. Jill Stamm, author of ‘Bright from the Start’, says that in order to develop, babies need to be able to respond freely to the world around them, which means being able to turn their heads and move around.

15 – Spend less time on the Internet

And more time talking and playing.

A great way to save yourself time online is to get your life insurance from Beagle Street, as you can get a quote in just ten minutes. And we’re up to *35% cheaper than other life insurers – so hit the “Get a Quote” button above to find out more.
On the bottom of the blog we will include this:

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Figures based on 20-45 year olds, smoker and non- smoker, £100k level or decreasing term, for 25 and 30 years.

[1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/316/5832/1717.long

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-difference-between-dog-and-cat-people-2014-5?_ga=1.111738180.1191387935.1449484556&IR=T

[3] http://www.pnas.org/content/104/47/18860.full

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Tabriz%20AA%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=26258767

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/sites/default/files/attachments/95822/humor-predicts-mating-success.pdf

[6] http://personal.lse.ac.uk/kanazawa/pdfs/SPQ2010.pdf

[7] http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education/

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