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Eye-Contact With Infants Linked to Vocabulary Development

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When babies are making noises and making eye contact with someone, that person should respond with eye contact and communication back.

Some scientists from various universities have recently stated that babies who communicate with their caregivers on a frequent basis using eye contact and vocalizations at the age of one are more likely to develop stronger language skills by the time they turn two years old.

The scientists videotaped infants and caregivers at home and encouraged the parents to behave as they normally would. They then collected all the video footage and carefully studied every sound and movement made by the baby and analyzed their reaction to the caregiver’s response back to them. Caregivers later filled out a survey in which they identified if their child could say certain words dealing with animals, daily routines, and food.

Statistical models were created by the scientists to determine the best predictor of vocabulary at 24 months for those infants who were captured using vocalizations while looking at their caregiver’s face. The benefits jumped tremendously if the interactions were followed by a response from the caregiver.

Statistics show that at 19 months, children had an average vocabulary of about 100 words. The children who exhibited back and forth interactions with their caregiver in the videos had an average of about 30 more words. This made it clear that babies are trying to communicate before ever saying a word and caregivers need to respond to them as if they did say something.

Caregivers should notice the context of what has sparked the vocalization of the child. If it happens in the car, talk about things in the car. If it happens in the park, talk about things in the park. You just never know what is going to pique the interest of a child so it is the job of the caregiver to talk about what the child may be trying to communicate with them.