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Baby Milestones: Rhythm and Dancing

Could your baby be the next Dancing With the Stars judge? Hey, why not? A new study shows that infants recognize a talented toe-tapper when they see one.

Experts say that babies pick up on "speech asynchrony," that annoying experience of watching a video when the audio doesn't match the person's lips. Now data from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas shows that babies also notice when someone dances off beat. Researchers showed infants videos of a woman dancing to "Circle Song 5," by Bobby McFerrin, and "Hendry," by Tarika Sammy. In one test, the dancer's moves matched the music; in another, she moved out of sync. Babies as young as 8½ months could discern good dancing from bad, looking at the screen longer when the woman was moving off beat.

It's unclear whether early musical ability translates into talent later in life, says study author Erin E. Hannon, Ph.D. Still, she encourages parents to cultivate their baby's expert rhythm. Listening to music and dancing will introduce your child to new sounds and words -- and show her a good time!