Infants who can blow bubbles and lick their lips are more likely to pick up language quickly, research suggests.
A Lancaster University study of 120 toddlers found the ability to perform complex mouth movements was strongly linked with language development.
They also found children who were good at 'pretending' an object was something else had better language skills.
The findings could help experts identify children who may struggle with language skills at an early stage.
At 21 months - the age of the toddlers in the study - children are learning new words at a faster rate than any other time in their lives...
The researchers said they expected to find that children who had better cognitive development, such as being able to do a puzzle or match pictures and colours, would have better language skills.
But in fact, only the ability to pretend that one object was another object - such as pretending a wooden block is a car or hairbrush - was associated with better language skills.
Dr Alcock said: "Until children are about two they are very poor at licking things off their lips or giving someone a proper kiss.
"If they don't have those skills it's going to be a big stumbling block in learning to form sounds.
"Children who have speech and language problems before they go to school do tend to have problems with learning to read and write.
"It's important we give children who need it extra help as early as we can."
Dr Alcock added that children learn to speak at different times and most children who start late will catch up.
"The best thing parents can do to help is talk to their kids," she added...
Professor Stephanie Stokes, professor of speech and language pathology at the University of Newcastle, said: "Previous studies have shown that children who have well developed symbolic (pretend) play skills and a range of hand gestures at the age of 14 to 18 months have better language development at 28 months than children who do not show such early skills...
Source: BBC NEWS
For more parenting articles, visit ChildUp - Online Parenting Class