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Health & Baby

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Baby Development: Your 9-Month-Old

The "Good Enough Parent"

The "ordinary expectable environment" provided by the "good enough parent" (i.e. the environment provided by almost all parents) contains more than enough stimulation to promote maximal brain capacity. Short-term tricks , like playing Mozart in the newborn period or using baby sign language with your infant for a few months, aren't going to make any difference unless they are continued for much of childhood. There, alas, are no developmental immunizations nor shortcuts or magic that will turn your little one into something far greater than intended. Remember, Einstein did not have the benefit of Baby Einstein, and he turned out pretty smart.

The Overstimulated Child

Aside from extra stimulation being unnecessary, I worry it can cause well-meaning parents to take a few wrong turns:

  • The idea that your child is somehow incomplete and you must fill in the holes with tricks and toys and videos and tapes.
  • The competitive aspect of it all: each parent silently comparing their child to all the others and worrying if their child seems to be falling behind in the competition to be there firstest with the mostest. In fact, whether early milestones are met sooner or later has very little bearing on long-term competencies.

The mistaken underemphasis on emotional development. I would say far more important than cognitive stimulation and being a brainiac are the enduring emotional bonds forged during this time. If a parent believes it's better for the baby to sit and watch a stimulating video than to interact with a real and caring human, that's a huge miscalculation and a big loss

No Shortcuts to Intelligence

If you want to stimulate your baby's abilities over and above the ordinary expectable environment, be my guest. But know we are talking about exposure that must continue for years and years -- there are no shortcuts. If you want your baby to grow up bilingual (which is a great idea), know that your baby will need to be exposed to the language for most of childhood and that having a Spanish speaking nanny for only two years isn't going to do it.

But mostly, as a parent, I'd much rather you spent more time thinking about your child's emotional well-being than intellectual one. The world will generally take care of the latter, but it's your incalculably important love that transforms the former.

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