Can You Build a Better Baby?

Though studies about the benefits of listening to classical music or taking certain vitamins make great headlines, the truth is that it's not that easy to jump-start development. To help you sort through the hype, we talked to experts on some of the latest claims and found the real ways to help your baby reach his potential.

Classical Music

The Claim: Playing classical music for your baby will boost his IQ.

Truth: Music will certainly enrich your child's life, but whether your baby listens to Beethoven or Beyonce, it's not going to put him on the fast track to an Ivy League school. That myth stems from a 1993 study at the University of California, Irvine: Researchers conducted an experiment in which college students listened to a Mozart sonata, a relaxation tape, or nothing at all, and then immediately took a test of spatial reasoning. Those who listened to Mozart scored the highest. "It was a neat study, but it was used in all the wrong ways," says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, professor of psychology at Temple University and author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn.

For one thing, the findings were used to sell a slew of classical-music-for-babies CDs with the promise that they'd make your baby brighter. But in fact, there was never any conclusive research proving that classical music had brain-boosting benefits for young children. There is some well-regarded research showing that 4- to 6-year-old kids who learn to play a musical instrument tend to be stronger students because the training improves how the brain gets wired for memory and attention. But as far as raising their IQ? Not so much.

The Bottom Line: If you want your child to reap developmental benefits from music, you're better off teaching him piano when he's older than forcing him to listen to Mozart now.

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