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Activities to Boost a Baby's Intelligence

By Heidi A. Reeves ; Updated June 13, 2017

While you've already gifted your infant with a little of your own intelligence in her genes, her environment and quality of care will also help to boost her brain power throughout the baby years and beyond. When choosing intelligence-boosting activities, forget expensive educational videos, which, according to a University of Washington study, may actually harm an infant's development. Instead, focus on activities that promote interaction between you and your infant.

Exercise While Pregnant

You don't have to wait until baby is born to engage in activities that may have a positive effect on his intellect. Low-impact exercises such as swimming and walking will keep you fit throughout pregnancy, as well as increase the flow of blood to the fetus and deliver oxygen and nutrients with greater efficiency, according to senior "U.S. News and World Report" writer Deborah Kotz.

Read Aloud

Reading to your baby will expose her to a diverse range of vocabulary, which has a positive effect on her intellectual development. Settling in for frequent story times will also introduce her to the basic concepts of literacy. As you read, she'll begin to grasp that the letters on the page have meaning and that they must be read from left to right, according to University of California, Davis psychology Professor Linda Acredolo. Reading the same book over again will help your infant hone her memory capacity.

Talk to Baby

The more you speak to your baby, the more likely his intelligence will increase, says Nisbett. The more often you speak to him, the more he will grow his vocabulary. Kotz suggests focusing on simple topics that he can relate to, such as his favorite possessions. Once your child is old enough to begin speaking, introduce questions that encourage him to place objects in categories and make comparisons between them. For example, you may ask him to differentiate between kinds of animals or identify the color of an object.

Communicate with Sign Language

Babies have the ability to understand language long before they develop the fine motor skills necessary for effectively expressing themselves through speaking. They do, however, have the necessary skills to communicate through sign language. While most babies possess little capacity for speaking before the age of 2, they can communicate using signs by the time they reach 8 months of age. Once these signing babies begin to speak, according to early childhood researcher Joseph Garcia, they more readily grasp grammar and tenses. Teaching your baby sign language doesn't just increase her understanding of language; a study conducted by the National Institutes of Child Health found that babies who signed grew into children with IQs that surpassed those of their non-signing peers by an average of 12 points.

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