London, Oct. 29: Competitive parents who cannot help boasting about their child's intelligence have a new tool at their disposal: an IQ test for babies as young as six months.
The 10-question quiz, devised by a child psychologist, promises to tell parents whether their baby is an average or advanced developer.
Questions are based on reactions to circumstances such as being fed, dropping a teddy bear, enjoying nursery rhymes and playing with toy telephones. They range from how babies perform a pat-a-cake and a goodbye wave to how they react to This little piggy and to their name being called.
Fisher-Price, which commissioned the test, said the questionnaire was drawn up in response to research indicating that parents wanted a guide to their child's intellectual development.
While 90 per cent of parents said they knew when the physical milestones, such as crawling and walking, should be reached, few knew when the intellectual developmental milestones, such as recognising and naming shapes and colours, should start.
Dorothy Einon, a lecturer in psychology at University College London and author of child development books, devised the test for children aged between six months and a year. She said that parents were becoming more concerned about their children's education. 'Most parents want to know how best to stimulate their children,' she said. 'These days it is more important to do well at school.
'Success in life may not require a first-class honours but it requires more education than it did in the past. Not all children develop at the same rate. Children who are late at crawling and walking may have rather low scores but catch up fast once they start to move about. It is certainly true that practice makes perfect, so the more interaction babies have with toys specifically designed for their age, the faster they are likely to learn.'
Child psychologists reacted cautiously to the test, saying it was unreliable and could worry parents unnecessarily. Dr Emma Hewson, a clinical child psychologist, described it as 'scientifically and ethically questionable'.
She said: 'Babies develop at different rates which are not necessarily predictive of their later IQ. Until research on the predictive validity of the test has been conducted, it would seem to me to be of limited value.
'More worryingly, it encourages labelling of children as bright or otherwise from a ridiculously young age and could provoke unnecessary anxiety in parents. If parents require reassurance that their child is reaching developmental milestones at the expected time, they should be able to contact their health visitor who has an expertise in this area.'
Prof Philip Adey, a cognitive psychologist at King's College London, said: 'There is a real danger that parents will panic if their child does not achieve top marks.'