Friday, March 15, 2013

Smart Baby?

I have had quite a few people comment on how Elanor is quite a smart little girl. I think a lot of it has to do with how well she talks. However, it got me thinking about how parents can influence their child's intellect. Obviously, a lot can happen when the baby is in the womb. For example, many babies who have mothers that drink alcohol and/or do drugs while pregnant seriously harm their baby and the baby is often born mentally retarded, while under normal circumstances it would not have been born that way.  Once a baby is born, the parents, of course, can do a lot to stimulate (in a good way) their baby's mind. 

When I was pregnant, I was of course making a baby inside my body. I wanted to provide the best possible environment because I was growing a human being for goodness sake! I was essentially lending my body to someone else to "use" and I really needed it to be as healthy as possible to provide an ideal home for nine months to this completely reliant (on me) little baby. 

Here are 3 things I did while I was pregnant that may or may not have affected Elanor's little brain:

1. I, of course, took my prenatals and took folic acid before actually getting pregnant.
2. I was pretty active and in good health and exercised often before and during pregnancy.
 3. Food--this really needs some subcategories, so:
a) I ate really healthy and was very careful about what I ate. I read a ton of books about pregnancy and about what I should and should not eat. I ate organic whenever possible and hardly ate out. What you eat is very important.
b) I did not eat ANY sugar the entire pregnancy. You heard me, no sugar. Yes, I missed chocolate, but I eventually did not even think about it and it was not hard at all. In every single book I read about pregnancy, it said to not eat sugar. Also, my mom did not eat any sugar while she was pregnant and I basically just followed her good example. Many babies with teen mothers often have ADD or ADHD this has often been linked to the teenage diet of a lot of sugar and other unhealthy choices. I am not saying you have to be like me or my mom, but I decided that if it could help my baby I could skip out on sugar for nine months.

Here on 10 things we have done/do since Elanor was born:

1. Read to her/ have a lot of quality books. From day one we have read to Elanor. Reading to a newborn may feel silly, but they like to hear their parents talk and when you read to them they pick up on the different inflections you use while reading a story and they love it and learn. We read to Elanor before naps and bedtime and whenever she wants. If we let her, she would gladly let us read to her for hours, but we limit it to 3-4 books before nap/bedtime. Since, we have a lot of books (our collection has grown a lot since she was born) Elanor "reads" to herself all the time and I love hearing her "read" stories. She almost always starts out a story with "Once upon a time, a young lady....". Pretty cute. She also has several books memorized or mostly so, such as Goodnight Moon and The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit.

2. We feed her healthy food. Also, I nursed Elanor until she was a year old. I am very careful about what Elanor eats. She did not have any sugar until she turned one and she still has minimal sugar. I make all of our meals and desserts from scratch (occasionally we eat out), buy a lot of organic--especially when it comes to meat, no msg and processed foods, and give her a wide variety of foods as well. We have given her variety from when she started eating solids at 6 months. We did not stick to rice cereal and bananas (we ate that too); Elanor ate whatever we were eating as a baby and still does. We also never bought baby food. We just ground up peas and such in a small food mill (it was $5). We have yet to find a food she does not like and onions and tomatoes are among her favorites. Healthy food makes for healthy bodies and minds.
3. Music. We listen/dance to a lot of music and have since Elanor was a newborn. Elanor has many songs memorized. We probably need to broaden her tastes more though. 
4. Schedule. Having your baby, toddler and even your kid on schedule makes everything easier and your baby is much more likely to be happy and more willing to learn.
5. Play. Inside and outside. Play, play, play. Imagine, pretend, go on adventures. I love inspiring Elanor's imagination with things like fairies. We often try to find fairy houses outside. This includes having limited but quality toys that both encourage imagination and teach your child. See my mom's blogpost on this here.
6. Get out and see stuff. Go to the zoo, the park, the library, a museum, etc. All these help in stimulating their little brains.
7. Talk and Listen. Talk to you baby/toddler/kid all the time. They learn how to talk mostly from their parents. Take the time to listen too, so they will want to talk.
8. Discipline. This one can be hard, but teaching your child rules and boundaries helps them so much. Learning discipline helps a child to focus, do as they are told, be polite, have patience, etc. I am by no means perfect on this one (who is?), but we are both learning and I think it is very important to have a well-behaved and polite child.
9. Do art. We love painting, coloring, sidewalk chalk, etc.
10. Limited T.V. Elanor did not watch any T.V. until she was 18 months old and was really sick. After her first experience (The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh), we started to watch one movie a week (we had a family pizza/movie night). We still do that. Occasionally, Elanor is allowed to watch a little show, but we mostly just do the one movie a week.

We are not a perfect family and our daughter is not a genius. These are just some things we like to do.  Most of this (okay all of it) is just stuff I copied from my own mom. I am not saying you have to do these things or if you don't do them that you are somehow creating a stupid kid. These are just things that are important to us as a family and I thought I would share them with you.  I think most importantly we should "let kids be kids", meaning let them play and have fun. Don't force them to learn, rather make learning fun and something you do everyday.

So, what sort of things do you do with your kids? What do you think about this post? Thoughts, please?


  1. Hey! It's Bethany from the farm the other day..

    I really liked this post. We are really into healthy eating over here. I feel like people don't realize how much food affects your body and quality of life.
    Do you do any juicing?? We do lots of juicing over here.. and it seriously makes us feel so much better. It's so good for you! And relatively easy to do!

    Way to go on not having any sugar when you were pregnant! I'm impressed and inspired. :)

  2. Intriguing! I don't know why I've never talked to my mom about [some] these things (i.e. What to eat when you're pregnant, etc.), especially because I already contemplate how I want to raise my children. I know it will be the most stressful, joyful, and rewarding thing I ever do. I'm grateful for this insight! If you ask me, you guys all turned out great, so you/your mom are doing something right. ;)