Making babies makes you smarter

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Your Pregnancy, Development/Milestones: Babies, In The News, Weird But True, Mommy Wars, Books for Kids

Want to get smarter? Have a kid.

The human brain makes new cells constantly over a lifetime, but the cells are most likely to survive and flourish when challenged with emotional and novel experiences. Scientists now say that parenthood provides the perfect "revolution for the brain."

After all, what could be more challenging than teaching a person to use the toilet? Or figuring out which cry means "I'm hungry?" Or coming up with new and different ways to disguise green vegetables?

Leading neuroscientists across the country are studying the ways that parenthood -- and, in particular, motherhood -- strengthens our mental abilities. One study showed that mother lab rats, like working mothers, excel at time management and efficiency, racing through mazes to get back to their babies as quickly as possible. Other research revealed that hormones created by labor and breastfeeding are linked to the ability to learn.

Katherine Ellison explores this concept in her book, The Mommy Brain. I heard Ellison talk about the mental gymnastics required by motherhood on my local pubic radio station, as I drove home from a late-night run to the drugstore for gas drops to administer to my newborn.

I laughed out loud when she said the mommy brain is a smarter brain, but then I realized just how often I apply complex problem solving skills in my job as a work-at-home mom. Dads aren't exactly slouches in this department, either. Keeping these kids alive is a lot of work, y'all.

Did parenthood make you smarter? Do you agree with Ellison, or is it just more mother-knows-best propaganda?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.