How do I increase my child’s intelligence?

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1. Development you can influence

A baby's brain development paves the way for their future level of intelligence, along with much of their personality and mental stability. Much of this development starts before a baby is even born.

While still in the womb, a baby’s brain grows at a rapid rate. By the end of the third week of foetal development, the three major regions of the brain have been formed and only one week later the brain begins functioning.

During the first five years of a child’s life 90% of their brain development takes place. Up to 51% of a child’s development is thought to be defined by environmental factors.

2. Pregnancy: Dos and Don’ts

1. Bonjour! Hello! Guten tag!

Don’t think that your unborn child is oblivious to what’s going on in your world. Research suggests that newborn babies from different countries have an accent in their cries.

Consider talking, reading and playing music to your baby before birth as this could contribute to advances in their development.

2. Thou shalt have a fishy

Do eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. One study showed that the more fish women ate during their second trimester, the higher their babies scored at six months old on a mental-development test. Check current government guidelines for any fish to avoid.

Vegetarians can consume flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil or take a vegetable-based omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Find baby brain-boosting nutrients also in egg yolk, cauliflower and lean chicken.

3. Eating for 1.1

Piling on too many pounds during pregnancy ups your chances of a premature delivery, and babies born early may be at a disadvantage when it comes to learning.

Gaining too little weight causes the baby to have a smaller head and brain, which has been linked to lower IQ. You're now eating for 1.1 – that's 10% more than before you were expecting.

4. Smoke gets in your eyes

Avoid harmful toxins from smoking, alcohol and heavily polluted air. It's thought that inhalation of traffic emissions transfers pollutants across the placenta and binds to the baby’s DNA, potentially causing behavioural problems.

Try to get away from noxious fumes and spend time breathing in the countryside air.

3. Birth to age 3: Communicate and play

Find out how stimulation and interaction can help with the development of child intelligence. Presented by Cerrie Burnell.

Playing with other children is great for socialisation, encouraging many skills such as sharing, taking turns, respecting physical boundaries and communication.

4. Age 4-7: Healthy body, healthy mind

Infographic showing the effects of exercise on learning, creativity and more.

We may associate exercise more with physical development rather than mental. However, extensive research has shown significant results in the effects of exercise on brain development.

Encourage your children to be active by being active yourself. Cut down on the DVDs for your children and go for activity toys such as hula hoops and bikes. On a rainy day, put on some great tunes and enjoy family dancing in the living room. Go on regular family outings. Walking around the local countryside or park can boost brain power with no cost attached.

5. Cultivating greatness

There are no guarantees that a child can be groomed into genius, no perfect recipe for success. However, several areas can be optimised to encourage brilliance.

Early exposure

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Early exposure

Prodigious skill or advancement often results from exposure to those concepts or ideas at a young age, while neural connections are still developing.

Creative homes

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Creative homes

Gifted children tend to be raised in culturally and intellectually stimulating environments which allow and encourage them to think and act creatively.

Fun factor

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Fun factor

It helps if a child finds something they love doing. Without pleasure, the hours required to master a subject can lead to resentment, rebellion and failure.