WASHINGTON (AP) — New research suggests babies don't learn to talk just from hearing sounds — they're lip-readers, too.
It happens during that magical stage when a baby's babbling gradually changes from gibberish into syllables and eventually into that first "mama" or "dada."
Florida scientists discovered that starting around age 6 months, babies begin shifting from the intent eye gaze of early infancy to studying mouths when people talk to them. Once they master the lip movements, they apparently shift back to look you in the eye again.
The research offers more evidence that quality face-time with your tot is very important for speech development — more than, say, turning on the latest baby DVD.
It appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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