5 Ways to Make Your Baby Smart Before He’s Even Born

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Most moms hope their kids end up smart and might even buy those Baby Einstein videos to give their little geniuses the edge. Yet here's what many moms don't know: You can also make babies smart before they're even born. "There is research to suggest that unborn babies are able to process and learn information during pregnancy from the external world," says Christine Weber, a clinical neuropsychologist in Seaford, New York. "Stimulation of neurons in the brain are enhanced by prenatal activities."

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And it turns out that these brain-boosting activities are easy! Try these expert-approved tips to jump-start your child's cognitive development before he even arrives in the world.

1. Exercise during your pregnancy. Sure, working up a sweat may not seem to have anything to do with raising your baby's intelligence, but it does. "Fit moms develop larger placentas with greater capacity to transport oxygen and nutrients in, and waste products out," explains Helene Byrne, a pre- and postnatal exercise specialist and founder of BeFit-Mom.com. "This greatly enhances fetal health across the board, including the brain. "Studies show that moms with good cardiovascular fitness who engage in regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy -- but especially before 20 weeks gestation when the placenta stops growing -- have babies with enhanced neural development."

2. Take prenatal vitamins. These vitamins, which include folic acid, not only help prevent neural tube defects in the brain and spinal cord, they're also great for baby's developing brains. One study found that women who don't pop prenatal vitamins were nearly twice as likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder as those who did, says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of the upcoming book Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love.

3. Eat fish. Fish is rich in two ingredients known to boost brain power: omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. One study found that babies with higher levels of DHA at birth scored higher on cognitive processing tests.

4. Read and talk to your baby. Whether you read Dr. Seuss or just chat about your day, your baby can hear you in there -- and may even already be filing away words in their memory banks. "Get into the habit of talking to your baby the second you find out you are pregnant," says Aradhana Mudambi, an education specialist who's studied vocabulary development in kids. "This habit will ensure that your child develops a strong vocabulary and become a great reader." Weber agrees, adding, "Playing music, speaking, singing, or reading nursery rhymes are auditory methods of stimulating the unborn child’s brain."

More from CafeMom: 7 Things Babies Do in the Womb That'll Blow Your Mind

5. Curb your stress. "Maternal stress can affect the environment in which the baby is living and can lead to premature birth, which can adversely affect brain development," says Lombardo. "Don't worry about doing things perfectly. Focus on gratitude and love over perfection."

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