Baby quiz aims to reassure parents about child's aptitude

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Parental one-upmanship has become so intense that a quiz has been developed to test the intelligence of babies.

Parental one-upmanship has become so intense that a quiz has been developed to test the intelligence of babies.

Focusing on everything from how a baby picks up a pea to how they perform "pat-a-cake", the test promises to alert parents to whether their child is as bright as the proverbial button or destined for a dunce's hat.

In an era when mothers and fathers are increasingly competitive about their children's intelligence and education, the questionnaire is likely to be seized upon by those who just cannot wait until their offspring speaks to assess their aptitude.

Yesterday Fisher-Price, which developed the Baby Development Test in conjunction with a child psychologist, insisted it was not intended to increase playground rivalry and pressure. Instead, the toy company said it was designed to offer reassurance after research indicated that parents wanted some form of guidance.

In conjunction with the Social Issues Research Centre (Sirc), the company questioned 500 sets of parents last month. Researchers found that, while 90 per cent are confident they know when the physical milestones - such as crawling and walking - should happen, very few knew when the intellectual developmental landmarks - such as recognising and naming shapes and colours - should start.

Dr Peter Marsh of Sirc explained: "The research indicates that 75 per cent of parents would like some sort of reassurance that their child is reaching developmental milestones at the expected time."

The Baby Development Test is based on a six- to 12-month-old baby's comprehension of basic language, awareness and interaction with toys and objects found around the house.

Dr Dorothy Einon, a lecturer in psychology at University College London and author of child development books, designed the questionnaire.

"Most parents want to know how best to stimulate their children. These days it is more important to do well at school. Success in life may not require a first-class honours but it requires more education than it did in the past.

"If you play a lot with the child then they do develop a bit faster," she explained.

She insisted it was not meant to put pressure on parent or baby, adding: "The child is doing nothing more than playing a game. [Early childhood] is a time to enjoy but nevertheless there is a tendency to make comparisons. What this is doing is offering reassurance."

She continued: "Not all children develop at the same rate. When we say the average six-month-old can do something we mean that half the babies of this age will find it too difficult. Children who are late crawling and walking may have rather low scores, but catch up fast once they start to get about.

"Development in early childhood is not predictive of what is going to happen later on. Early tests don't correlate very well with ability at 15."

THE DEVELOPMENT TEST

1. Does your child...

a. turn his/her head away when he doesn't want food? b. lift his/her arms to be picked up? c. play pat-a-cake or wave goodbye?

2. Can your child... a. grab a toy you hand him? b. drop a toy on purpose? c. stack two cups or two bricks?

3. When playing with a toy that includes doors or flaps does your child... a. find opening the door/flap too difficult? b. use his/her hand or finger to push the door/flap open? c. is able to both open and close a door/flap with ease?

4. When your child is being fed does he/she...

a. need you to feed him/her? b. use his/her whole hand to try to pick up small food items like peas? c. use his/her finger and thumb to pick up small food items like peas?

5. Does your child... a. enjoy songs like 'This little piggy' or 'Ride a cock horse'? b. move his hand and/or foot in readiness for 'This little piggy'? c. do the action for one song like 'Pat-a-cake'?

6. Does your child... a. ignore his/her toy teddy he drops? b. look for his/her toy teddy he drops? c. intentionally drops teddy and watches where it goes?

7. Can your child... a. have a babble conversation with you? b. look where you look? c. imitate an action - such as pretending to drink from a toy cup?

8. When playing with his/her toy phone does your child... a. treat it in the same way as all other toys? b. show an interest in what the toy phone can do? c. do what is expected - press buttons, put to ear etc?

9. Does your child... a. look away and take no notice when you hide a toy under a cloth? b. look under the cloth to see where the toy is if part of it is peeping out? c. lift the cloth to find the hidden toy?

10. When you call your child's name does he/she... a. ignore his/her name being called? b. turn to you when you call his/her name? c. know his/her name and recognise Mummy and Daddy when asked "Where's Mummy/Daddy"?

WHAT DO THE ANSWERS MEAN?

Pick one answer per question. To find your baby's developmental score give 1 for each a, 2 for each b, 3 for each c.

* A is what the average child can do by 6-8 months; c is what the average child can do by 12-14 months.

* At six months the average child may not be able to do everything on the list, but should be able to get an a for the majority of questions. Expected score: about 8-9

* At nine months the average child should get mostly a, with some b. Expected score: 13-15

* At 12 months the average child should get b and a few c scores. Expected score: 24-26

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