How can I make my baby smarter? I worry my six-month-old is not getting the same experiences as, say, kids in day care because I don’t do as many activities with her. I don’t take her places, because it’s easier to go by myself while someone watches her. We don’t walk outside much in the stroller, well, because I’m lazy. I don’t do all those creative activities like putting things in bags for her to squish, like I see on Instagram. I do obviously play and read with her during the day, but she also sits in the stroller I roll around inside or I carry her around doing household stuff a lot too. I do try to talk to her and narrate what I’m doing. Am I sacrificing IQ points because she’s not building as many neural connections or something like that because we’re not doing Montessori activities all day?—Worried Mom
I would like to give you a hug and tell you you are doing a great job and please, please, please be less hard on yourself.
First of all: there is absolutely no evidence that doing things like baby music class has any impact on babies. I realize that baby music classes will tell you they do, but I assure you that it’s not supported by any rigorous data. Same goes for baby gym class, baby yoga, and all the rest. The reason to do these things is that it’s something to get you out of the house to see other adults! Which is great if that’s what you want to do, but it is not a requirement.
Second: there is also no evidence showing that enrollment in day care at these young ages is important for cognitive development (there is maybe a bit of evidence on preschool around ages 3 or 4, but nothing at this age). There also isn’t any evidence that day care is bad. There are many great care environments, but your child is not missing some evidence-based bump.
Third: about the only parental behavior where we do see some evidence of positive impacts on kids is reading to them. Which you are doing.
But what I think is much, much more important to say here is that this is so emblematic of the pressure we put on parents, especially moms. Re-reading what you write: I do obviously play and read with her during the day, but she also sits in the stroller I roll around inside or I carry her around doing household stuff a lot too. I do try to talk to her and narrate what I’m doing.
You are spending your day doing fun stuff with your baby, talking to her, reading to her, rolling her around the house in a stroller. This is all awesome. And you’re being hard on yourself because of a squishy bag Instagram video!
I am sending you a hug. And a reminder that you’re doing great.