Communication clues from babies include pointing, reaching

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In the first 18 months of life, babies go through a period of rapid growth. But parents have the ability to read different communication clues their babies use -- if they know what to look for.

It's all about paying attention to subtle signs.

Developmental experts say infants' gestures, specifically pointing, can be a predictor of their vocabulary size.

Psychologists at Duke University studied 108 infants and found that by 18 months, when children point at an object, it's a big signal they want to learn more.

"By pointing, this highlights 'I'm open. I'm available. I'm attending, and I'm ready to learn whatever it is that you're ready to teach me,'" said Makeba Wilbourn, a developmental psychologist at Duke University.

Researchers say babies who used other gestures, like reaching, didn't easily identify objects by name. Experts say this suggests parents have an opportunity to follow their child's lead and help them learn new words.

"Label, describe, really highlight and discuss what your infant is interested in, specifically when they are pointing," Wilbourn said.

Experts say when babies start to walk, it frees up their hands to interact with caregivers in new ways, so pay attention to all those signs.
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