All babies lip-read from about 6 months of age, to learn mouth-shapes for the sounds they hear, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University.
When a baby gazes intently at a speaker’s mouth, this indicates they are working to learn to form syllables for themselves, instead of just babbling.
From about 1 year old, the babies tended to shift back to eye contact, from lip-reading. If a new language was heard, the lip-reading tended to re-start.
Babies who are deaf would rely on this lip-reading ability more than others, and continue lip-reading past the researchers’ watershed age of 12 months.
Hearing-devices can support lip-reading for wearers of all ages. Babies with these devices can gain early language by simultaneously lip-reading and hearing sound. This is called the listening-and-speaking method of learning language, where a family’s language is likely to be the first language used.