How Smart Is Your Baby? by Glenn Doman. Book review

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I’ve finally got my hands on “How Smart is Your Baby?” by Doman. Since someone recently was asking if this book is worth buying (in addition to other “Teach Your Baby” series) I decided to post this review:



First of all, I have all “How to teach your baby…” – Reading, Math, Encyclopedic Knowledge, Swimming, Physically Superb. “How smart is your baby” is slightly different (I haven’t read the “increase your baby’s intelligence”), though it has bits of everything.

1. This book takes you step by step with physical, verbal, and cognitive stimulation from first days after birth.
2. Every chapter consists of: how to test your babies current abilities, how to stimulate the baby, charts and to-do lists.
3. Appendix has some things that are covered in “Physically Superb” book – how to build branchiation ladder, how to build tunnel, etc. But it also has some things that other books don’t have – charts, to-do lists, and an article on SIDS.
4. This book combines all the programs and tells you specifically when to start introducing reading, when to start introducing crawling tracks, when to start introducing other physical or cognitive stimulation components. Actually the timelines in this book differ from “Teach your baby to read” that recommends to start flashing words from day one, and from “physically superb”, that also has different set of excersizes on the initial stages.

What I loved the most was the language development component – sounds fantastic, I can’t wait to try it.

What I didn’t like – is the the schedule they insist upon – usually it seems to me that there are not enough hours in one day to fulfill the program that Doman books suggest. Every time I finish reading one of Doman’s list of recommendations, I remain bewildered, where such everyday activities as eating, sleeping (I am not even talking about socializing or taking care of other kids!) come into – it seems like every second of the baby’s waking time he is supposed to be pinched, flashed with light or card, otherwise stimulated. And sleeping time as well. Also, some of the methods of stimulation don’t seem right to me – they may be good for his brain development, but they seem to me wrong for his nervous system – aren’t babies supposed to enjoy peaceful environment, without constantly being pinched, blown away with a horn or going through some other unpleasant stimulation?

Being in total awe with all the research that Doman performs on the child development, I still can’t agree with another component – putting everything on hold: life, holidays, week-ends, housework. Baby might need a stimulation, but she also will need a clean shirt to wear, and the mother will need some food for herself to provide her baby with healthy breast milk. Somebody has to prepare that food, somebody has to provide mom with a clean plate and somebody has to make sure that the baby is crawling in a tunnel that is not dusty. Even in the households where dads provide tremendous help with the housework (like my amazing husband), or in the households rich enough to outsource all the housework – with cleaning ladies and maids, there are still plenty of other resonsibilites that might not add directly to the developmental profile of the baby, but still have to be done.

Same goes for week-ends and holidays: Doman insists that all the programs have to be carried out consistently, without unnecessary breaks for week-ends and holidays. I strongly believe everyone needs a break. Adults, children, babies. Everyone needs a change in the activities – I am sure that among the warmest and most dearest memories for every baby there will be primarily the time on week-ends and holidays that is spent with dad and siblings, special times with the whole family – may be less educational, but greatly beneficial for their self-confidence and feeling of self-worth. I strongly believe the same applies for mother’s need for a personal time. After just a few hours on the week-end that don’t involve the daily developmental routine, I usually feel refreshed and ready for more fun during the week. Everyone DOES need a break – baby, mom, and the rest of the family.

So, I actually found this book very useful and will gladly try some parts of this program once my own little one arrives. Which parts, and in which quantity – I’ll see how it goes, how is baby reacting to the stimulation, and how it fits into the schedule of having two kids who need mommy’s attention and some developmental activities. I am definitely ordering crawling track and introductory cards. I am not so sure about pinching, light flashing, blowing horn and banging blocks. As I already said, I can’t try the language excersizes from the book. I am still debating over SIDS argument presented in the book. I am definitely performing some evaluations to see how the baby is doing on the developmental profile. And I am definitely recommending this book to anyone who is interested in early development for his/her baby. Though, with a grain of salt, as I think everything should be taken.

Newborn Baby Exercises Checklist
Doman Newborn Baby Choice Board

Share what you think in the comments below!

  1. I recently read this book and had many of the same concerns as you, the loud noises and pinching specifically. If you are not familiar with the blog, her son did not have a startle reflex (the reflex being tested and strengthened by exposure to loud noises) and she did not discover it until he was 10 months old. The treatment started with exposing him to loud noises until he had a reliable startle reflex (and continued from there).

    When my little one is born, I plan on following the checklists, or at least trying. The times given for each activity means the whole program takes less than an hour a day, which I think I can find. And some things will be adjusted, for example once I know my baby startles I don’t think the hearing program needs to be as intense as the book suggests, but I can’t say I’ll exclude it entirely! The pinching I can do without though.

    I agree completely with their article about SIDS. I was born when putting babies to sleep on their tummies was recommended, obviously I turned out fine, though not the point. Of all my family and all their friends, only one infant died of SIDS and she slept on her back in her own room, down the hall from her parents. Her parents were heartbroken and worried for years if her death was because they let her sleep on her back. (Then the government decided that back sleeping reduces SIDS, and the parents deemed it an act of God and became very religious.)

    In my opinion it doesn’t matter which way a baby sleeps any more than it matters which way an adult sleeps. (Although in adults snoring and sleep apnea are more common in back sleepers!) What does matter is limiting the possibility of asphyxia by removing all toys, pillows, crib bumpers, and excess blankets from where the child sleeps. And there is growing evidence that babies just sometimes forget to breathe! It’s a scary thought, but one that is easily remedied.

    As long as the baby can hear another human breathing, it appears he continues breathing just fine. This also supports the anecdotal evidence that cats “suffocate” babies. A cat breathes at a rate approximately twice that of a human. If a baby is alone, and the only breathing it hears is the cat, he may attempt to breathe that rapidly as well. Hyperventilation causes a decrease in blood oxygen levels, and continued hyperventilation can kill.

    I intend on having my baby sleep very nearby without anything that could suffocate him (including the cat, just in case), and on whichever side he is most comfortable. If he sleeps best on his left side with his right foot tucked behind his head, that’s how I’ll let him sleep. (My husband has made attempts at this position in his sleep, it’s not entirely out of left field)

    I think anyone interested in infant development should read this book. The colour-coded chart of developmental stages alone is worth it. I hope that this book is as helpful to me as it appears it will be. I still have a couple more months of baking before my little bun arrives, but once he’s a few months old I will come back and let everyone know how it went.

  2. My son just turned 4 months old, would it still be of value to buy this book? Or would I be better of buying the other Doman books?

  3. Sure! The earlier you start – the better! At four months “How Smart Is Your Baby” is the best of all Doman books.