Are these the secrets to a smarter child?

Are these the secrets to a smarter child?

Every parent wants to feel like they’re doing the right thing for their child. Many wonder if they’re doing all they can to promote healthy development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the “5 Rs of Early Education” with your child, starting at birth:

  1. Read to them.
  2. Rhyme, talk, sing, play and cuddle with them.
  3. Create routines around eating, playing and sleeping.
  4. Reward successes and good behaviors.
  5. Foster consistent, respectful and nurturing relationships.

Dr. Caroline DeBoer, a pediatrician with Aurora Children’s Health in Whitefish Bay, Wis., says the 5 Rs are both important and impactful.

“Children’s bodies and minds develop incredibly quickly over the first few years of life. This is a critical developmental period that helps set your child up for success,” she says. “That’s why it’s important we as pediatricians go beyond addressing behavior or learning issues after they’ve developed and instead help families prevent them from ever arising. To do this, we provide anticipatory guidance, or a ‘what to expect next’ discussion, which almost always includes one or more aspects of the 5 Rs.”

A few recommendations stand out to Dr. DeBoer:


Within the first year of life, babies learn to recognize their parents’ faces and can discern parents’ and other familiar faces from unfamiliar ones. Children can surprise us by picking up on even the most subtle of interactions between adults and often will mimic those behaviors in their own interactions with other children.

Modeling healthy, respectful, uplifting relationships (whether in the home or in public, with friends, strangers, others of similar or dissimilar races or backgrounds) is a crucial way parents can teach children empathy, emotional intelligence and confidence.


Reading shapes a child’s development in numerous ways. Children see words and images on the page, listen to the caregiver’s pronunciation and inflections, and can practice motor skills like turning pages or social-emotional skills like looking toward a caregiver’s face after a particularly interesting plot twist.


Bring up school readiness, learning, behavior and development at pediatrician appointments. These aspects of health are equally as important to a child’s success as eating a well-balanced diet or getting the right amount of sleep at night.

Are you trying to find a pediatrician? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.