Many factors influence a child's IQ. Home life, a parent's education and parenting style, and daily interactions between parents and their children may contribute to a high IQ, according to parenting experts. But parents can also expose children to other IQ-enhancing techniques by nursing them, feeding them nutritious foods, allowing them plenty of exercise and introducing them to musical training.
Studies show that breastfeeding a baby for 9 months or more can increase that child's IQ by up to 6 points. If a mother increases her intake of omega-3 fatty acids while nursing her child, she builds docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, in her baby's brain tissue, according to AskDrSears.com. DHA is found in fish, fish oil supplements and some baby formulas, and is thought to increase a child's intelligence.
According to ABC News, U.K. and Canadian researchers discovered an association between foods high in fat and sugar and slightly reduced IQ. While not a cause-and-affect finding, the fact remains that children whose dietary patterns consisted of fatty, sugary foods at age 3 had a lower IQ at age 81/2 than peers who ate more nutritious foods. Not all sources agree that junk food lowers a child's IQ, but they do verify that a well-rounded plate consisting of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats keeps brains and bodies healthy.
3. Physical Activity and Play
The American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org website reports that children and adolescents benefit from at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, and that children who engage in 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity show increased cognitive function. Dr. Eric Small, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, orthopedics and rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells HealthyChildren.com that studies show that a child's IQ will suffer if she is inactive during her first five years of her life. In school, recess offers an important break away from learning. Gwen DeWar of Parenting Science writes that recess improves a child's ability to pay attention in the classroom and is most effective when it lasts 10-30 minutes. Such unstructured play time encourages pretend play, an important practice for intelligent problem-solving.
4. Music Instruction
Children who study music for six or more years might have an IQ of up to 7.5 points greater than children who are not exposed to music instruction, according to a study cited by the American Psychological Association. The APA also reports that encouraging a child to pursue musical training may have a lasting effect on the child's IQ, and the longer the child studies music, the longer those results last. Other studies cited by the APA show a difference in brain mass between children who play instruments and children who do not. In fact, children who do not consider themselves musicians but are asked to participate in musical exercises can rewire their brains in a matter of days, according to additional research cited by the APA.
- Ask Dr. Sears: The Head-To-Toe Healing Effects of Omega-3s
- Ask Dr. Sears: Pediatric News Updates from May 2002
- Healthy Children: Physical Activity: Make the Right Choice for Your Child
- Significance Magazine: Food for Thought: Does Better Food Raise Your Child's IQ?
- Natural News: Junk Food Can Lead to Lower IQ in Children
- ABC News: Do Fatty, Processed Foods Lower Children's IQ?
- National Institutes of Health: Exercise and Children's Intelligence, Cognition and Academic Achievement
- Parenting Science: The Cognitive Benefits of Play: Effects on the Learning Brain
- American Psychological Association: Music Lessons May Boost IQ and Grades
- Parenting Science: Music and Intelligence
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