You're going to be a parent and you're planning everything from the nursery wall color to the crib accessories so that your baby grows into the smartest and brightest they can be. You're taking prenatal care seriously by meticulously structuring your diet and playing Mozart to your fetus's developing ears. How many of your best laid plans are based on science and how many are founded on myths?
Dr. Sam Wang, neuroscientist, author, and professor, recently co-authored, "Welcome To Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College," and in the video above debunks common cognitive development myths. After researching many preconceptions, Dr. Wang was surprised by what many parents inaccurately thought to be true.
Myth: Avoid eating fish during pregnancy
It was thought that high levels of mercury found in fish could harm neural development.
Salmon or sardines are actually good for fetal brain development.
In a New York Post, article Dr. Wang and Sandra Aamodt explain that the nourishing omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are beneficial for brain development. Pregnant women should continue to eat fish, especially sardines and salmon.
Myth: Baby Einstein is good for baby brains
The popular videos targeted at making baby genius's can transform your tot's mind into a super cognition machine.
No tv before the age of 2
In his book, Dr Wang asserts"Multiple studies have shown that infant TV watching is correlated with poor language development." Babies need play and social interactions instead of a glowing screen. Unfortunately, the fast cut brightly colored baby videos are similar to other programming that leads to ADHD. Finally, there simply isn't research that shows that TV benefits babies.
Myth: Breast-feeding increases intelligence
Studies have shown that kids who were breast-fed have higher IQ's.
Mother's that breast-feed tend to have a higher IQ
Breast-feeding is great for many things, mother child bonding and for building immunity, but not as an IQ booster. Mothers that choose to breast-feed tend to have higher IQ's and may be better off financially. This actually has a greater influence on IQ than the type of milk the baby gets.
Myth: Redshirting or holding your child back a grade will give them an advantage
1 in 11 children are held back from entering kindergarten because parents don't' think that they're ready or think that being slightly older than their classmates will give them an academic advantage.
Delay kindergarten at your child's peril
This aptly titled article by Dr. Wang and Sandra Aamodt explains that holding your child back will only put them at a disadvantage in the long run. One study showed that younger students made more progress than older students held back. Having more years in school put them at an advantage.
Finally, the number 1 thing parents can do to improve their child's brain development, is to relax! If you're providing a safe, healthy and stable environment, frantically fussing over your little one's brain won't help. Their brain will develop mostly on its own, don't over prune, over water, and fret and fuss. Send rays of happy parenting sunshine to your child's growing mind.