Raising Smart Children: 9 Ways to Give Your Baby a Head Start

Parents await their baby’s first words with eager anticipation, wondering whether “Mama” or “Dada” will be first. Even before your baby starts pointing, talking, and asking questions, you have a chance to help them understand the world. 
Many factors influence the development of a newborn’s brain. Here are the nine most important things you can do to help your baby grow into happy, healthy and smart boy or girl.
1. Let your baby sleep
During the active sleep phase, a baby's brain develops rapidly. Neurons fire and connect, and links between the right and left hemispheres of the brain are strengthened. Babies who get enough sleep develop better language skills, impulse control, and attention. Conversely, studies suggest that babies who are sleep deprived by one hour per night may experience slower cognitive development of up to two years behind their well-rested peers. 
Avoid cutting nap time short, and maybe catch some z’s yourself while your baby snoozes and continues to build that little brain. 
2. Talk to your baby
Talking to your baby helps to enhance their language processing skills and expand their vocabulary. When you talk, your baby watches your lips move, listens to the sound of your voice, and begins to learn how to form and pronounce words. Keep conversing with your little blabberer without worrying about whether they understand what you’re saying. 
3. Encourage your baby to move
There is a firm connection between physical activity and brain development in babies. This connection is part of why “tummy time” is so important. Parents should let their baby indulge in frequent unstructured physical activity. Higher activity levels increase blood flow to the brain and other body parts, resulting in better brain and muscle function, and improved coordination. 
4. Play music for your baby
Research suggests that slowly dancing to calming music while holding your baby releases a 'bonding' hormone, oxytocin. This hormone contributes to lower anxiety, which is good for you and good for your baby. Babies exposed to calming music have also been found to have better memory retention. 
5. Breastfeed your baby
Mother's milk is like a magic potion for boosting your baby's brainpower. Breastfeeding your baby until the age of one can help increase your baby's health and intelligence because breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients required for the growth of a baby. 
6. Introduce your baby to healthy food habits
Including healthy foods to your baby's diet plan is a sure-shot way to boost their brainpower. Green vegetables, fruits, dairy products, nuts, eggs, and seeds are a few food items that can help in your baby's brain development. Blending nutritious foods in delicious combinations will make sure that both your baby’s brain cells and taste buds are satisfied.
7. Socialize your baby
Let your baby interact with friends and family early and often. Babies learn so much from their surroundings, so the more stimuli they are exposed to the more they will learn. 
8. Let your baby choose
Parents know best (of course), and many new parents put lots of researching into finding the right toys, blankets, and foods for their baby. However, giving your baby the freedom to choose starting at a young age will boost their cognitive skills. Choosing between colors, tastes, shapes - even people - will improve their reasoning and decision-making skills. 
9. Expose your baby to nature
Human eyesight is keenest when looking at colors in the yellow-green spectrum. Letting babies play outside on green grass can help babies relax. Exposure to all the variety in nature will help develop their reasoning abilities as they learn to identify and remember new objects. 
No matter what your baby's IQ ends up being, these ideas can help strengthen the bond between you and your baby, which is ultimately the most important step in raising healthy and happy human beings.