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Above Average Development in Infants

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a 9 month old daughter. Her brother is believed to be gifted, but his sister has a different father. Can you tell at such a young age if they are gifted? She held her head up since birth, and very alert, even tracking practically since birth as well. At about 3-4 month in a week's time we realized if we held her hands, and said, "up," she knew that as a cue to go up. And she would go down, when we said, "down." We weren't trying to teach her, but realized it about a week later from when she first started pulling up by us holding her hands. Soon after, with us holding her hands, she would go from laying down, sitting, to standing with us saying either, "up," or, "down." If she was laying down she'd go to sitting, or sitting to standing. If she was standing she'd go to sitting, or sitting to laying down when we said, "down."

She started sitting around 5 months, and her doctor was impressed she'd already use her arms to prop herself so she could get stuff. She was crawling off her belly at 7 months, and now is walking by holding onto one of our hands. If we let go she'll just lower herself to the ground. I also noticed she might have good memory. I tested it last week by showing and telling her I was putting her binky under the toy bucket. Than we'd go do something else for a minute, and come back. She picked up quickly, as she soon would go to the bucket, and knock it over to get her binky when I asked where it was. Although, I tried a different hiding spot recently, and she immediately went to the bucket still. She looked inside, spilled it out, than looked inside again. She is already learning a new hiding spot today though. LOL

Okay, I've rambled on here. But I am curious if you can tell this young. She's not talking away yet. She does say, "nana," for her banana puffs, and knows that they are, "nana." But she also associates it with eating, as she tries to say it to get food as well. Sorry again for so lengthy. There are not many places I can get info. I am not looking to label her, but want to be prepared and learn all I can. I wouldn't do anything different with her, as we learn through play and have fun. Thank you for your time.

A: It is a little hard to tell for sure at this age as there is minimal description on the traits. Shared genes are an influencing factor; hence if her brother is gifted, there is a possibility that she might be as well. But as I said, it is hard to tell at this point.

A few pointers to help you tell if your baby is advanced:

  • Very alert - This can be seen when the baby is always moving and looking around quite quickly.

  • Need for constant mental stimulation - When they do not get the mental stimulation they need, they can be quite fussy. Being very young, they are not able to possibly move as much and can probably see so much in front of them. This upsets them and they may start crying - parents may think that they are colicky babies when all other “comforts” have been given (feeding, diaper change, etc)! A change of environment can simply calm them down. Studies have shown that children who tested as gifted on the IQ tests were the babies who looked away from objects more quickly than the other babies and were also the babies who preferred unfamiliar over familiar objects.

  • Tendency to be ahead - Doing most things early, meeting developmental milestones well before his peers not only crawling or walking, but across the board such as sitting, smiling, talking, fine motor skills. They may also mimic sounds earlier than other babies.

  • Requires less sleep compared to other babies - Because of their heightened alertness and active minds, they tend to have a problem shutting down and going to sleep. This problem may persist.

  • Tendency to be exceptionally sensitive to sounds, smells, textures, tastes and may cry vigorously in response to unpleasant or strong ones.

  • Good memory - At this age it can be hard to tell but gifted children may demonstrate a surprising ability to remember things.

I am sure you are on the right track and being aware is the best thing you could do now. Provide her with the necessary stimulus that she need to hep her develop further. Labelling is unnecessary and I am glad that you are not looking at labelling her. Do some reading on how to help an advanced baby learn better. Enrich her with a conducive environment to help her learn in an exciting and fun way.

Good luck!


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