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It can seem like an eternity before your baby starts uttering those first adorable words and phrases, but that doesn’t mean your little one isn’t listening and learning from you. In fact, according to new research, your 6-month-old understands words much more clearly than you might think.

A new study conducted by researchers in Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester has found that infants start understanding words as young as 6-months-old. By showing babies images of common object pairs, and studying where babies looked when the objects’ names were spoken, researchers were able to determine that an infant’s vocabulary is structured in the mind the same way that an adult’s vocabulary is through related concepts.

When babies were presented with words that have similar meanings they showed signs of confusion, which is evidence that even young infants understand how words are related. The study also showed that environment had an effect on how babies learned words. “The more they hear labels for what they’re looking at and attending to, the stronger their overall comprehension.” In other words, reading and naming objects to your baby, even at a very early age, can have an impact on language development.

What do you think of this study’s findings? Share your thoughts in the comments below.