The Power of Music
Every parent wants to provide their child with every possible advantage to survive in a highly competitive world. During the 90’s, one of the potential advantages that was most focused on was parents’ increasing their child’s IQ. A famous study that showed some temporary improvement in spatial IQ test scores after listening to classical music resulted in a number of intellectual baby care products.
Baby Einstein, one of the most popular videos created using the theory that early exposure to intellectual material increased IQ, was purchased by Disney in 2001 and had sales of more than $17 million. However, despite the financial success of these videos, one study reported that for babies from 8 to 16 months old, every hour spent watching these videos rather than experiencing human interaction resulted in their having six to eight fewer words in their vocabularies compared to other babies their age. For children 17 to 24 months, their vocabularies increased and the negative effects were reduced.
While the claims made during the 90’s regarding the ability of intellectual baby care products to increase I.Q. were perhaps exaggerated to increase sales, experts agree that exposure to music may be one contributing factor in raising smart children.In an article in Scientific American, Don Campbell, author of more than 20 books on music, education, and health, including “The Mozart Effect” says that
“Music has a tremendous organizing quality to the brain.”
In addition to that quality, he also believes that music can also modulate mood and alleviate stress. Stress has been shown to be one of the major obstacles to learning.
While listening to music can improve learning ability, experts believe that learning to play an instrument has a more positive, and permanent effect on IQ. According to a study of 25,000 students conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, those who had received music instruction tested higher on SATs and in reading proficiency than those who had not. Luckily, with the advent of the internet and YouTube videos, music lessons are now available to a far greater number of families than ever before.
The Power of Words
However, when it comes to intellectual baby care, there are more important factors to consider for building a strong foundation upon which your child’s budding intellect can be built. One of those factors is proper nutrition. Happily, the rising popularity of community gardens is resulting in an increase in the amount of healthy organic foods available for families, regardless of income.
Perhaps the best, and least expensive, element of intellectual baby care is verbal interaction. According to the results of one study, possibly the best intellectual baby care product parents can buy is a dictionary. The study measured how verbal ability can be affected by socio-economic conditions and found that children from professional families heard 2,100 words in an hour, children from working class families heard 1,200 and children from poor families heard only 600.
The study concluded that by the age of three, a child from a poor family would hear 30 million fewer words than a child from a professional family. Vocabulary is one of the most basic building blocks of knowledge. On a standard Bayley Cognitive Assessment, children from families with incomes below the poverty line score one-fifth of a standard deviation lower at age nine months, with the gap increasing to half a standard deviation by two years.
The good news is that whatever their income, parents can utilize libraries, the internet, and perhaps most importantly, one another, to expand their vocabularies as well as their knowledge and experience. These studies have all helped demonstrate that caring well for children begins with parents caring well for themselves. Today’s children are fortunate in that the income gap is becoming less relevant because parents have access to so many valuable resources. Of all the intellectual baby care products and resources available to children, affectionate communicative parents are still the most important, and effective.