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Genius is a very rare thing, and it often takes years of education, study and work to attain it. But genius can begin to show itself at a very young age, resulting in Teen Geniuses and Child Prodigies. But what happens if it shows up even sooner than that? The result is the Brainy Baby.

The Brainy Baby is any infant with the intelligence of a rocket scientist. Not only can he speak, but he can speak 10 different languages fluently, know the complete works of William Shakespeare, and figure out how to invent time travel, all just coming out of the womb. The baby may be an Instant Expert if they're actually shown in the process of learning any of these things, given how little time they've even been alive, or they might just know them in a similar way to how someone who says Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum! can increase their knowledge by boosting their intelligence.

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This is most commonly Played for Laughs, especially when the baby's hypercompetent in areas that would call for some amount of physical prowess, rather than just intellect; having a baby be The Ace, besting grown men and women at everything they do, is inherently funny. However, it can also be played straight if the intent is to show that the character has such an exceptional brain that they are to a Child Prodigy what a Child Prodigy is to a "normal" genius.

Some cases of this trope are actually smart adults or teenagers who've been subjected to reverse aging. Others are some variety of immortal and age much slower physically than mentally.


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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Ads for baby formulas abuses this trope, especially in Hong Kong, with play-school age children demonstrating remarkable vocabularies, problem-solving abilities, and mathematical skills.
    • Parodied in the UK by an advert which showed a baby of about six months who had arranged his alphabet blocks to spell "PAEDIATRICIAN."note 
  • An ad for a brand of bottled water called "Pump" claims that water produces "mini-mind babies with PhDs."

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pulmo Allen of Amuri in Star Ocean is the commanding officer of a Space Station, wears make-up and high-heels, and is called 'Professor' by her elders, all at the tender age of 3. The fact that she is an Adapter probably has something to do with it.
  • Himawari from Crayon Shin-chan is not only smart for an infant, but has an obsession with jewelry that she can discern an authentic from an imitation. She also swoons over handsome young men just like how her brother swoons over pretty young women.
  • Ivan Whisky/Cyborg 001 of Cyborg 009 plays the trope straight, but in the 2001 one he's a subversion. He's a very powerful telepath and telekinetic with the intelligence level of an adult, but also is trapped in the body of a baby since he was (unwillingly) given all of this through cyborg enhancements. This means, poor 001 is Not Allowed to Grow Up and, unless he's given a new mechanical body, he will remain as a Brainy Baby forever.
  • Turbo from Doctor Slump is killed and then revived by aliens, gaining Psychic Powers and a genius-like intellect in the process.
  • Granny Girl Hinata-chan: A side chapter shows the day a newborn Hinata came home from the hospital. Her family sees her folding origami cranes with a dexterity that defies what she should be capable of. Her brother then asks if Hinata is doing it to wish their mother a speedy recovery and gets a very clear, firm nod in response. While this is the result of Hinata being born with the full memory of her previous life, big brother Haruto believes his little sister is a genius.
  • Mannish Boy of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is one of Dio's superpowered assassins, despite being a baby. In general, whatever process causes someone to develop a Stand also causes them to gain the intelligence of an adult human, even animals and plankton.
  • In Reborn! (2004), there are the Arcobaleno, who are known to be the 7 strongest babies in the world. They are one of the cases of reverse aging, as they were cursed in the past.

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: Barry used to be this, as shown in flashbacks. As an example, he built his first telescope when he was eight months old.
  • While Cassandra Cain is illiterate even as an adult, she had a genius for the martial arts since she was an infant. One flashback panel shows her teething on a shuriken... and then hitting a bullseye with it on a target on a far wall.
  • Valeria "Val" Richards, the second child of Reed and Susan Richards, was revealed to be a genius... as an infant. She takes after her good old Teen Genius dad, a borderline Child Prodigy himself, who privately speculated that she would start playing chess by the time she reaches age 2.
  • In Generation Zero, Gamete is a super-intelligent psychic fetus.
  • The Loud House's licensed comic "It's Just a Phase" reveals that Leni learnt to sew when she was only one (if only she'd remained smart as she grew older) and Lisa started doing experiments whens she was also only one.
  • Baby Brain in the Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian flashbacks to the Newsboy Army.
  • Whizzer and Chips:
    • Baby Boffin from "The S.O.S. Squad" whose inventions are all pram-related.
    • "Master P. Brain (Science is his Game)" was a pre-teen, but the first strip showed that as a baby he invented an automatic baby-feeding machine for himself.

    Comic Strips 
  • Sheldon, in both U.S. Acres and Garfield and Friends, is stated to have read newspapers before he was born, thus resulting in him refusing to hatch. He's also the most philosophical member of the cast.

    Fan Works 
  • Zigzagged in the Star Trek: Voyager fanfiction Anomaly with Captain Janeway's daughter Sarah. Initially, she hit her milestones like sitting up and smiling early, but then she took a while to say her first word... Once she did, however, she started speaking in full sentences, and she remained a prodigy ever since.
  • In the Scooby-Doo fanfiction The First Mystery, Velma, who's canonically very smart, could apparently crawl since she was only one day oldnote  and do basic math at one year.
  • Deconstructed in the FusionFall fanfic Invisible Sun. Since infancy, Dexter has been a genius. He could understand his parents long before he could walk and much earlier than he could talk (Dexter mentions he didn't talk until age 3 because he was learning and storing information). Unfortunately, this means that Dexter heard things he wasn't meant to understand, such as how his parents hadn't wanted a second child due to money issues and how they had wished for another daughter, not a son.
  • The Loud House fanfics:
    • In My Sister Leni, Lisa could talk at one month and was reading advanced books before she was one. The problem is that she didn't want to interact with others or act like a "normal baby". She preferred to study, rather than play with toys, and would get mad when others patronized her for being an infant:
      Lisa: "If you stopped to pay attention, then you'll see that I am extraordinary compared to my peers! I'm the antithesis of those slobbering, stupid, primative newborns! And yet here you are lecturing me about how the world operates, not letting me get a word in. You assume that just because I have the physical characteristics of an infant that entitles you to patronize me like I'm one of them!"
    • Discussed in The Nightmare House. Lisa is four years old, but a teddy bear thinks she's a baby who's just using inappropriately big words.
    • In Lisa's Birth, Lisa started trying to talk when she was only one day old, and she could speak eloquently at two months.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The premise of the movie Baby Geniuses is that all babies are like this until just before they learn to speak, at which point their intelligence collapses.
  • In the Robert Rodriguez movie Shorts, two brothers use a wishing rock to wish one of them were super smart. The wish is granted to their baby sister, who informs them through telepathy.
  • In Sky High (2005), the super-genius professor becomes one of these after the Pacifier is fired on him along with the rest of the school. His intellect remains completely untouched, but since his body is that of a baby he needs to use a machine to talk to the cast, even snarking a little about needing a change of diapers later.

    Literature 
  • The eponymous baby in Baby Brains can do surgery, and he would've been sent to the moon had he not been too colicky.
  • Jake and Zoe's daughter Erin, from the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Discussed in "The Third Wheel". Greg thinks he could understand English perfectly even in utero, and that he figured out how to steal the TV remote's batteries as a baby, though these claims are dubious.
  • A rare serious version is Bean in Ender's Shadow.
  • It is stated in the Franny K. Stein book The Fran That Time Forgot that Franny was a mad scientist ever since she was a baby.
  • Implied for Beatrice Bottomwell in The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes. She made her first ever mistake when she was somewhere between six and eleven, which meant that she never made mistakes as a baby.
  • Jon "Jack" Remillard in Jack The Bodiless, by Julian May.
  • Subverted in Harriet Spies Again, the sequel to Harriet the Spy. Harriet thinks she said her first word at six months, that it was "proceed", and that she started speaking fluently only a month later. Her mother corrects her, saying that she was actually fourteen months old, and her first word was "cookie".
  • Baby Matilda was very well-spoken for her age at one and a half. She later taught herself to read from newspapers lying around on the floor at age three.
  • The eponymous Child Prodigy of Millicent Min, Girl Genius was apparently one, since she mentions that, when she was two, she could read chapter books intended for children around the age of ten.
  • John Wainwright of Odd John by Olaf Stapledon is also a serious version.
  • Sunny from A Series of Unfortunate Events is fully cognizant in infancy, though only her family members understand her.
  • Discussed in Smart Ice Cream by Paul Jennings. The narrator, Wilfred, is an Insufferable Genius, who claims he could speak from birth, but he was probably lying.
  • The abbot in Thief of Time, who retains his personality and memories when he reincarnates and is currently in the body of a toddler.
  • In Twilight, Renesemee is supposedly as intelligent as an adult, though it's a bit ambiguous because a.) she also has Rapid Aging and b.) she still tends to act more like a baby than an adult. Nevertheless she's able to read within a few weeks of birth, at which time she looks about three.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Zigzagged for Darren and Samantha's daughter Tabitha in Bewitched. Since her birth, characters speculated over whether she was a witch, and whether this meant she had above-average intelligence (for instance, when she played with a newspaper, both Darren and Gladys thought she was picking a stock). When she turns one, it's revealed that she is a witch, though she still has fairly average intelligence for her age.
  • Saturday Night Live: Exaggerated in the "TV Funhouse" cartoon "Fetal Scooby Doo", where Scooby-Doo and the gang are solving a mystery in utero.

    Music 
  • MC Frontalot's song "Bizarro Genius Baby".

    Myths & Religion 
  • The eponymous character of the medieval Jewish satirical work The Alphabet of Ben Sira, from the moment of birth, is both fully capable of speech and much more intelligent than the adults he encounters (and never lets them forget it, either).
  • Mercury/Hermes was a wayward youth at the age of one day! Not only could he talk, he invented the lyre from a tortoise shell, and stole the cattle of Apollo for a lark. When accused of the crime, his reaction was "What do you want from me? I just a little baby."
  • Taliesin, the legendary bard of Medieval Wales, was not only able to speak at birth but compose poetry and song. This is because he was reborn from Gwion Bach, the poor slave who accidentally drank some of the witch Ceridwen's potion of inspiration.
  • Legends of Merlin often have him suddenly speaking perfectly around the time he is weaned. This is convenient, because this is also around the time when his mother is about to be put to death for getting pregnant out of wedlock; Merlin, with his prophetic knowledge, testifies that his mother was raped by a demon in her sleep and thus gets her spared.
  • According to The Qur'an, Jesus (who, remember, is revered as one of the greatest prophets in Islam) spoke shortly after being born to declare he was a prophet of God. It doesn't say if he talked afterward.

    Poetry 
  • According to his poem "The Michael Rosen Rap", Michael Rosen could walk and talk at birth, swam the English Channel at the age of 1, joined a band at age 5, robbed a bank at age 7, and became Prime Minister of England at age 8.

    Puppet Shows 

    Toys 
  • Most Baby Alive dolls are modelled on babies of about one, yet they're very articulate for their apparent age, saying things like, "Pretend it's my birthday. How about a birthday kiss?".

    Video Games 
  • Baby Head/Hoover from Captain Commando. He built his own Mini-Mecha.
  • The Garrickson Baby from EarthBound Beginnings. Unlike most examples on this page, he actually can't speak English. However, using telepathy reveals that the baby has psychic powers. He teaches Ninten and Ana how to use PSI Teleport.
  • In Maggie Saw Game, an unofficial online game using characters from The Simpsons and the plot from Saw, Maggie can speak, and the "gifted" room in her daycare features one baby who can read novels and another who was testing the string theory.
  • Dr. Fetus from Meat Boy series takes this to the next level.
  • Moshi Monsters has the Moshling species Glitzy Boo-Hoos. They're always babies with no teeth, yet can speak and walk upright.
  • Baby Amelia Earhart in the Sam & Max: Freelance Police episode, "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak". As the series has a tendency to reuse characters, Baby Amelia was present in Season 2, but they're not the same character: in season 2, it was the adult Earhart who had gotten in The Bermuda Triangle and drunk too much from the Fountain of Youth, where in Season 3 it was actually the young Earhart as a baby. Either way, both of them are very eloquent, and the one who wasn't an adult goes on tomb-raiding adventures in Egypt.
  • If the character profiles in Super Smash Bros. are to be believed, the Yoshi race in the Super Mario Bros. series are an entire species born with a very high I.Q.

    Web Comics 
  • Downplayed in Kurami. The titular infant isn't able to speak yet, and still acts like a baby, but considering she can apparently complete a sudoku puzzle despite being nine months old and completely blind, she definitely qualifies.

    Web Original 
  • In Dante's Infanzia, because anyone still legally considered a child in their society winds up in Limbo, anyone who can retain their sanity are able to think like anyone their actual age.
  • Neopets: When a Neopet is zapped or painted into a baby, they don't change in any way except for appearance. This means that, despite allegedly being babies, they can still speak perfectly, read, fight in the arena, and work in jobs.
  • New Father Chronicles: In the videos taking place when Amalah and Nayely were babies, their babbling was subtitled with words, to make it seem as though they were speaking and had a developed understanding of the world.

    Western Animation 
  • Shown in imagine spots involving Mr. Ratburn a good number of times in Arthur. Specifically:
    • In the prologue to the episode, "Arthur's Baby", when Arthur explains to the viewers that everyone was a baby once, in one spot, an infant version of Mr. Ratburn is seen writing math equations on the wall.
    • In the episode, "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble", Arthur and his friends all worry that Mr. Ratburn's younger sister, Rodentia, is as smart as her brother, imagining that happening even during their childhood years. One of these spots involves an infant version of Rodentia doing calculus on a laptop.
    • In the episode, "Bitzi's Beau", Buster worries that his Mom is dating Mr. Ratburn and they'll get married and eventually have children. In his Imagine Spot, he is surrounded by triplet toddlers, who being the children of his Mom and Mr. Ratburn, have rat-shaped heads and rabbit ears. The triplets are all hyperintelligent and nerdy, and want him to read them long books in French. One of them even has a chemistry set, which he breaks when he falls over, and blames it on Buster.
  • "Labretto", the Origins Episode of Dexter's Laboratory, shows Dexter talking minutes after being born and building machines while still in the crib. Professor Hawk was also described as being extremely smart as a child ("At the age of four, he made history — by receiving a college degree!")
  • The Duck Dodgers episode "Where's Baby Smartypants?" has a baby philosopher who is considered the only person that could mediate peace talks between the most warlike races in the galaxy. Dodgers actually stands in for him and does quite well... then the real philosopher gets them all riled up again.
  • Pictured above: Stewie of Family Guy. A big part of the character's humor comes from him being a super-intelligent Mad Scientist (probably the most intelligent character on the show, in fact), but lacking some extremely basic knowledge that only babies would not know. For example, he still gets confused by the peek-a-boo thing.
  • Time Baby, the superintelligent totalitarian ruler of the dystopian future in Gravity Falls.
  • A flashback on Invader Zim shows Dib spelling "ALIENS" out with his blocks when he was still in diapers. He also has vague memories of being experimented on, theorizing that extraterrestrials were trying to create a "genius super-baby." Irkens in general are given PAKs and uploaded with the collective knowledge of their entire species immediately after "birth." Not that this makes them "smart," though.
  • The I Am Weasel episode "I Am My Lifetime" showed that Weasel was intelligent and articulate ever since he was a newborn.
  • The Loud House:
    • Downplayed for Lily Loud. During the first four seasons, Lily's established as being only 15-months-old (one year and three months) and while she may not be as intelligent as her sister, Lisa (a Child Prodigy who's technically already finished school up through getting a Ph D), she's shown to be very smart for someone her age. For example:
      • She seems to understand her siblings pretty well, at least enough to get in on the family's shenanigans.
      • Can work technology like a camera or a cellphone pretty well.
      • Even Lily tends to find Luan's jokes and puns to be rather lame.
    • "Room and Hoard" establishes that when she was a baby (probably around age one, since the licensed comic "It's Just a Phase" reveals that she started doing experiments at one) she kept her used diapers and studied the bacteria in her pee and poop.
  • Diaper Man in The Mighty Heroes cartoon. He is actually the leader and "brains" of the title group.
  • Muppet Babies (1984):
    • Bunsen is the same brilliant inventor as his adult counterpart, only smaller.
    • Also Scooter, being the little computer whiz he is.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: At the ripe old age of one month, Pound and Pumpkin Cake are very intelligent and very mischievous little foals. And while surges of flight and magic ability are apparently normal for foals, that doesn't quite explain the twins' level of control over their abilities. They even know how to speak — their first words are "Pinkie" and "Pie".
  • In Numberjacks, One is only one year old, yet she has a concept of addition, and in one episode, she even says a sentence ("I'm only a little number".)
  • In the Jamal the Funny Frog shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons, Jamal's little sister Polly is able to speak intelligently even though she's just a tadpole.
  • Peg + Cat:
    • Baby Fox is smart enough to build a complicated machine that was able to give him a bottle, lift him up to his bed, and change his diaper. He even used a diagram to build it.
    • "Peg Meets Cat" reveals that Peg could do simple addition when she was only about one or two.
  • A minor character of The Proud Family is a super-intelligent infant who always seems to enjoy pestering Oscar. He speaks in a deep voice and is always outsmarting and embarrassing Oscar Proud. He also doesn't seem to reveal his intelligence to anybody but Oscar.
  • The Simpsons: Maggie Simpson certainly qualifies. She's led a revolt in daycare, successfully driven a car for miles (albeit into a prison wall), and sniped mobsters without being seen...with a shotgun. And the ONLY ONE bold enough to shoot Mr. Burns with his own gun after he stole her candy! It's heavily implied that Maggie knew well beforehand that Burns deserved to get shot. At the town hall meeting, when everyone else was yelling about various things Burns had done, when Marge added that Burns was "causing us all to yell" you could see on Maggie's face that she shared Marge's anger. She's saved Homer's life how many times now? And where did she learn how to swim and fence?
  • Ike from South Park. At age three he can barely speak, but gets to go to kindergarten early and apparently reserves the TV every night to watch the news. In one episode he reads several novels written for adults in the course of one day.
  • The fourth season of Transformers: Rescue Bots reveals Dr. Ezra Greene and his new wife Ana Baranova to have a toddler daughter named CeCe. While she hasn't yet mastered speech, she does demonstrate being capable of reprogramming the toys her father made for her and holds up all ten of her fingers when her older sister Frankie asks what 2 times 5 is.

    Real Life 
  • Believe it or not, this can happen — say hello to Adam Kirby, who was accepted to Mensa at age two after he taught himself to read and use the toilet at nine months.
  • Christian Heinrich Heineken (1721-1724) of Lübeck, the child for whom Immanuel Kant coined the word Wunderkind. He mastered French and Latin at age two and at age three wrote a history of Denmark. Most of his brief life he lived mostly on the milk of his wet nurse. His death is attributed to the then unknown Coeliac disease (he died when his diet switched to grain products like bread, etc.).

 
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Maggie Simpson

Maggie knows what an octogenarian is and she can read-- at the tender age of one!

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