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A smart start for babies

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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A simple quiz for parents is able to reveal the mental agility of their babies at the tender age of just 6 to 12 months.

The test, developed by the Fisher-Price toy company, is based on the infant's comprehension of language and interaction with toys and objects.

It evaluates reactions to circumstances such as being fed, dropping a teddy bear, enjoying nursery rhymes and playing with toy phones.

The 10-question quiz asks parents to observe how their toddlers play with these items and measure their reactions. Researchers say it allows parents to discover if their children are average in development or more advanced.

Fisher-Price commissioned the test from Dr. Dorothy Einon, a child-behavior psychologist and author.

Recent studies have found while most parents know when their kids should start crawling and walking, they're less certain about other milestones, like recognizing shapes and colors.

The questions in the Fisher-Price quiz zero in on the latter.

For example, do children treat a toy phone like any other toy, do they show an interest in what it does, or do they pretend it's real?

If kids treat it as a real phone, their development is thought to be at a more advanced stage.

"Most parents want to know how best to stimulate their children. These days it is more important to do well at school," Einon told London's Independent newspaper.

"Success in life may not require a first-class honors, but it requires more education. If you play a lot with the child, then they do develop a bit faster."

She insists the test hasn't been designed to put pressure on parents or kids.

"The child is doing nothing more than playing a game . . . but nevertheless there is a tendency to make comparisons. What this is doing is offering reassurance," she said.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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