From Nutrition To Toys, Find Out How Raise A Smart Baby

Parenting a baby is a full-time job in and of itself -- rocking, feeding, holding, snuggling, changing, bathing, singing, playing and everything else that takes place from morning until bedtime. There are a number of things you can do, however, early on in your child's life to help her brain grow and to establish important neurological connections that will help her become a good learner for the rest of her life. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to give your baby a jumpstart on brain health and give her a case of the "smarts."
Monica Beyer

1. Breastfeed your baby
 Starting from birth, if you choose to breastfeed your baby, you are  giving him a wonderful gift that will last a lifetime. Breastmilk contains innumerable ingredients -- some that are not able to be replicated in any laboratory, and some that are. One ingredient is called DHA, which is an essential fatty acid that is responsible for early brain development as well as ongoing brain health. Studies have even shown that DHA is incorporated more readily into the brain from breastmilk than formula (you may have seen commercials touting the addition of DHA to infant formula and even baby food).

Read more on breastfeeding: Establishing your milk supply: Starting out right

2. Read to your baby
You can actually start reading to your baby before she is born, but don't worry if you don't (or didn't)! Starting to read to your baby at any time is such a great idea and will instill a love of reading and books in your baby that will carry on to her school years and far beyond. If you enjoy reading, be sure to let your children see you reading as well because children more often than not imitate what you do.

3. Delay the introduction of solids
 It can be so tempting to fly through a baby's first year and eagerly anticipate each and every milestone, including that first bite of baby food, but more and more parents are putting that date back as new evidence rolls out that it's more important to keep up an exclusive diet of breastmilk. Waiting up to at least your baby's 6-month birthday is best, and even waiting beyond that is permissible (with your doctor's approval). This will give your baby more exclusive time with the irreplacable ingredients that are so important for brain growth.

Read More: When should your baby start solids?

4. Serve healthy foods
When you do decide to let your baby try solids, choose each and every spoonful wisely, and keep that practice up as long as she's in your house, eating your food. Now's the time to turn your own diet around if need be, concentrating more on sources of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, instead of highly processed pre-packaged foods that are bad for the body -- and the brain.

5. Sign with your baby
You can start signing with your baby when he is as young as 4 months old, or wait until he is 6 to 8  months of age. Research has been done that links using sign language with hearing babies to an increase in spoken language as well as higher IQs.

Read More: Baby signing: Let your fingers do the talking

6. Choose smart toys
Drift past the blinking, noisy toys in the store, and head straight for simple wooden blocks. Open-ended toys are terrific for using the imagination as well as helping build eye-hand coordination.

7. Have a sing along
Music is not only fun, but using music in your home early on can pave pathways in your baby's brain for future learning. In so many areas of learning and life, if you don't use it when you are young, it can be harder to learn as you age. So sing to your baby when she's little, and encourage her to sing when she's old enough.

8. Introduce foreign language
In the same vein, it's much harder to learn a foreign language when we've gone past a certain age, so if it's at all possible, introduce your child to the sounds and grammar of a foreign language early. If there are foreign language speakers in your family, don't hesitate to enlist their help. Encourage them to speak the second language around your child so he can have some of the advantages of a native speaker.

9. Encourage creativity
Once your baby is old enough, sit him on the floor with some enormous crayons and big pieces of paper and let him explore what happens when color is applied to the paper. Being brainy isn't only about words and numbers -- artistic expression is an excellent way to build your baby's brain.

10. Massage, hold and touch your baby
Stroking your baby's head, limbs and body also helps make neurologic connections and will also help strengthen your bond with your baby.

There are so many fun and easy things you can do on a daily basis to help raise a smart baby, starting from birth. Helping your child reach her full potential is one of the best gifts you can give her!

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