Is it nature or nurture that makes a super baby?

Turns out, how brilliant you are has little effect on how your baby turns out.


Every parent wonders what sort of person their baby will turn out to be. You may ask how will your diet or other prenatal activities, such as listening to music, contribute to your child’s development? Also, will your parenting style affect his personality? Well, science says that you have already done most of that shaping by simply passing on a portion of your genes to your baby.

        In fact, we inherit about half of our character traits from our parents. Also, the environment someone grows up in can actually affect his predisposed genetic traits, deciding if or when these genetic components show up. A child’s diet or nutrition (environmental factor) can affect his height or weight (genetic factors).

        Ongoing studies also show that children who are brought up on healthier, more nutritious diets demonstrate slightly higher scores on IQ tests, compared to their less healthy peers. However, a good diet supports brain growth as well as cognitive functions like boosting concentration and memory. Which means that the impact of genes (nature) and the way we’re raised, coupled with our environment (nurture) is more or less equal.

Factors that influences personality

If how you raise your baby strongly influences how he turns out, you’d expect siblings raised together to resemble each other more in personality than two random people off the street. But they don’t. When it comes to personality, the environments that leave a mark seem to be anything other than the one that parents create at home. 

         Dr Robert Plomin, a behavioural genetics professor who analyses twin studies and adopted children, concludes that the environment siblings share while growing up has no bearing on their personality or basic psychological development. This includes the entire family’s mood and priorities, the parenting style, and whether their upbringing was “healthy” or “unhealthy”. 

         A “healthy” environment is free of abuse or neglect while an “unhealthy” one is when parents rely heavily on reacting to their emotions and have trouble coping with their emotions rationally. Instead, Dr Plomin argues that a non-shared environment — time away from the home — is what influences personality. 

         Researcher Judith Rich Harris observes that children are mainly influenced by same-age friends — which you can, of course, control to some extent when your kids are babies. However, other psychologists who feel that peer groups generally only have a short-term effect, suggest that how people — and the world — react to us also play a part in shaping our personalities.

        Our appearance and intelligence affect how others react to us. And this reaction can become part of our personality. So, this back-and-forth interaction with people we meet helps to regulate our personality.

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