Are babies natural lip readers?

When I think of lip readers, I imagine adults who have worked for years to master the skill. There’s no denying that to become an efficient lip reader takes a lot of practice, but as it turns out the root of the talent is innate in all people.

New research suggests we all learn to “read” lips as babies, and studying mouths plays a very big role in how and when babies learn to talk. Scientists have discovered that starting around 6 months, babies start studying the mouths of the adults talking to them, instead of focusing solely on the eyes. In doing so they begin to learn how to position their own mouths to form certain sounds, including the much anticipated first utterance of “mama” and “dada.”

Kevin Nugent, PhD, founder and Director of the Brazelton Institute at Children’s, a research and training organization dedicated to studying the development of newborns and young children, was recently interviewed by Fox News to get his take on how babies learn to speak by watching our lips.

In addition to language development, Dr. Nugent is an expert in how environment affects other developmental milestone of childhood. Here’s a recent Thriving blog where the doctor discusses how the style of daycare a child attends can affect her development. He’s also the author of “Your Baby is Speaking to You: A Visual Guide to the Amazing Behaviors of your Newborn and Growing Baby.”