Babies learn to point between 12 and 18 months old. Baby Pointing is a key body language development milestone along with waving bye-bye and other gestures. Although it varies how frequent or early babies will point, it is their way of interacting with their world. It is also one of the earliest forms of communication for your little one, just the natural next step in his or her ability to communicate. A kid pointing at things they see or even want is an essential developmental milestone. Pointing is just one physical or non-verbal way a child communicates. Others include hand gestures, arm waving, or lifting their arms in the air to ask to be carried. It encompasses a combination of gross motor skills and language skills, including hand-eye coordination. Pointing basically paves the way for language development.
More often, a child’s first word will be something that he or she has pointed to previously. It is also an early way of sharing and interacting. He may point at something, get your attention, and then clap when you notice the object and talk about it with him. Pointing may seem simple to you, but complex thought goes into that quick gesture. Research shows the motion can mean that babies are aware of future and past events, as well as objects that are no longer there. And when you do the pointing, your child quickly figures out that you’re trying to tell him something.
There are different types of pointing:
Pointing at a desired object is what is known as declarative pointing. This is when your child points to show something to someone else.
A child pointing to something that he or she wants with the expectation that you will get it for them is what is known as imperative pointing.
Your toddler’s ability to point to something to draw your attention to it is a major developmental milestone and is called joint or shared attention. This is also one of the earliest signs of social interaction.
Easy Ways to Help Baby with Pointing
Baby pointing is important in child development. Here are some tips on and easy practical ideas.
- Teach your baby to sign. Baby sign language is one effective way to teach your child to point.
- Model the behavior. This can be done easily! When you read books to your toddler point to the pictures or specific objects you see.
- Blow bubbles. If you blow bubbles for your baby and pop the bubbles with your fingers, soon your baby will use his or her finger to pop them too.
List of Baby Pointing Milestones
The following is an overview of the 11 distinct pointing development milestones from birth to two years old.
Shows Active Interest or Disinterest
Development Milestone emerges from age 1 to 6 months.
Within the first six months of your child’s life, he or she will show signs of active interest in people or objects with eye-gaze and body language for at least one minute. Your baby will also do this to avoid interaction. Examples include smiling and turning away, which occur frequently through parent-child interactions.
Gestures to Continue or Stop Activities
Development Milestone emerges from age 4 to 5 months.
It is likely at this age that your baby will gesture either for you to continue with a favored activity or stop when he or she does not want to do it anymore. Examples of this behavior will include arm waving or turning away for more than a few seconds.
Raises Arms to Parents
Development Milestone emerges from age 5 to 9 months.
When your baby is younger, between 5 to 7 months, he may do this just to be closer to his parents or trusted caregiver. As he gets older, between 5 to 9 months; when your baby does this, he is basically asking to be rescued from strange or unfamiliar situations.
Development Milestone emerges from age 6 to 9 months.
It is such a joy to witness for the first time your baby waving bye-bye. At this age, your baby probably doesn’t understand the full meaning of it and may wait to do it when the person is out of sight. Your baby’s wave may vary. He may use his arm or just a subtle opening of his hand when it is at his side.
Holds out Toy
Development Milestone emerges from age 9 to 12 months.
When your baby girl wants you to look at something she will hold it out as a way to communicate that is what she wants you to do. She will do this for approval, acknowledgment, explanation, or to share. Additionally, she will alternate her eye-gaze between you and the object.
Development Milestone emerges from age 12 to 14 months.
At this age, you will be able to better understand what your toddler wants. This is because she now understands that if she wants something she can simply point to it. Additionally, she will alternate her eye-gaze between you and the object to further communicate that she wants it.
Waves Bye without Imitation
Development Milestone emerges from age 12 to 15 months.
Your child no longer needs to see you or another person wave “bye” in order to wave “bye-bye” in return. Modeling is no longer necessary. Verbal cues are enough for your child to respond with a wave. At this age, your child’s waving gesture is also a lot more developed.
Gives Toys upon Request
Development Milestone emerges from age 12 to 15 months.
When your little one wants you to either look at, share, explain, or help with an object or toy, he will spontaneously give it to you. Afterward, there may be a bit of back and forth between the two of you before he proceeds to play with the toy with you.
Gestures to Indicate Need
Development Milestone emerges from age 12 to 19 months.
How can you tell what your child needs? At this age, your toddler uses a combination of conventional gestures. Such as holding out hands, pointing, shaking his head, showing, twisting palms, taking an adult’s hand to communicate “I want,” “help,” “pick me up,”I don’t want,” “all gone,” and “tell me what this is.”
Points to Distant Objects
Development Milestone emerges from age 17 to 19 months.
You may notice your child gazing out of a window, noticing distant sounds, or pointing at something that is too far away to reach. To draw attention to those distant objects your toddler with spontaneously point to them. Examples of distant objects include airplanes, fire trucks, cars, birds, the sun, or the moon.
Grabbing Pushing and Pulling
Development Milestone emerges from age 18 to 24 months.
At this age, verbal communication is still limited. In order to communicate her wants and needs with other children, your child may use aggressive physical gestures like grabbing, pushing, or pulling. This is her way of telling the other child “I want that,” “That’s my toy,” or “Play with me.”
Most babies begin to point to objects on his or her own between 12 and 15 months. However, it is important to keep in mind that every baby learns at his or her own pace. So, don’t worry! Always speak to your pediatrician for serious concerns. Otherwise, try out some activities with your baby to help her with her many other developmental milestones and remember to have fun!
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Whenever your child attempts to point, enthusiastically acknowledge it. By responding to her gestures, you are reinforcing her understanding and empowering her to engage you in the process. Reading and singing to your baby are good ways to spark interest in her surroundings. She’ll want to point at pictures in a book, imitate the way you play with a toy, and move your hands to music. Try songs and rhymes with hand movements, which teach your little one that using her fingers is fun. You can also give her rattles and toys that she has to pull, move, or shake to get a response, which helps her strengthen her hand muscles.
Build toward language
Being able to point has some definite perks for your child. He finally has a visual way to communicate what he wants, so he’ll be less likely to dissolve into tears while you’re trying to guess. Plus, it’s a stepping-stone toward language development. When he points to an object, tell him what it is and what it does.
Don’t worry about differences in pointing skills
Some babies are frequent pointers, while others may just lead adults to a desired object instead. Once your child’s verbal skills are developing rapidly, she may be more inclined to use words than gestures. However, if she isn’t pointing or trying to direct your attention much at 18 months, talk to your pediatrician, especially if she also doesn’t engage with you during play.