When Will My Baby Wave, Clap, and Point?

Before your baby speaks aloud, they will begin communicating with you using non-verbal communication; noises, gestures, eye contact, and smiles are methods of non-verbal messaging. Humans are naturally social creatures, so your baby will want to communicate with those closest to them as soon as possible, and that means you!

Watching your baby wave “bye-bye” for the first time or clapping in excitement are magical milestones and just the tip of their communication iceberg. So, when can you expect your little one to start waving, clapping, pointing, and using communicative gestures? 

This article outlines when to expect waving, clapping, and pointing to begin, ways to encourage non-verbal and verbal communication, and situations that may warrant a chat with the pediatrician. So read on to learn the best ways you can support your little one on their language journey!

Waving, Clapping, and Pointing

All three of these magical milestones begin around 9-months-old. Keep in mind that all babies develop differently, so if your baby is ahead or behind the curve, that’s ok too! 


Waving “Hi” and “Bye” may not always look like a traditional wave to start. For example, some babies flap their arms up and down, others open and close their fists, curling and opening their fingers, and others may move only their wrists. 

When your baby first begins waving, it will be an attempt to imitate what they’ve seen you and other adults do. Over time, however, their actions will become refined and purposeful instead of “monkey see, monkey do.”

Tips to Encourage Waving

When waving in front of your baby, use the accompanying language that goes with the wave. Using words helps your child understand that the gesture has a verbal meaning. You can also sing songs or perform fingerplays with them, such as “Where is Thumbkin?” or “Hello, How are You?” that demonstrate waving. 


Clapping requires hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, so it is exciting when your baby reaches this milestone. Your baby may clap for several reasons, they are excited, they want your attention, they want an object or food, or there is music playing. 

Most babies typically wave before they clap, so if your little one has just started waving, it may be a month or two before clapping develops.

Tips to Encourage Clapping

To encourage your baby to clap, play music and clap along to the beat; count and clap as you listen to the song. “Let’s clap! 1, 2, 3, 4!” Show them when clapping is the norm, such as after you finish singing a song, “Yay! That was so much fun!” or at celebrations like birthdays or sporting events. 

You can also teach your baby how to give a high-five which reinforces hand-eye coordination and teaches them that a clap or high-five is used when something exciting happens.


Pointing is one of the earliest ways your baby can communicate with you. A point can indicate something they want or are excited to see. A point can show they understand what you want or know the name of a specific object. 

Pointing is an excellent skill your child can use to expand their receptive language and display their understanding of the spoken word. 

Tips to Encourage Pointing

Respond to your baby’s points by naming objects and asking questions. For example, “Do you want the blue ball?” or “Do you want more cereal?” 

When reading books, you can point to objects as you name them, and you can also ask your baby to point to specific items; “Where is the dog?” or “Do you see the car?”

To help your baby learn body parts sing songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes” or ask them “Where is Mommy’s belly?” or “Where is Daddy’s nose?”

When to Speak with Your Pediatrician

The typical age range for waving, clapping, and pointing is nine to twelve months, but even if they hit their first birthday and haven’t mastered these milestones, don’t panic. Instead, talk with your pediatrician about your baby’s development at their one-year check-up. If they are developing typically otherwise, your doctor may decide to wait a few months and re-evaluate at their next check-up.

If, however, your baby is not smiling, laughing, making eye contact, cooing, or babbling, or these skills have popped up and now disappeared, it may be a sign of a developmental delay.

What’s Next?

After non-verbal communication is mastered, words will begin appearing. Some children utter their first words around a year old, but it may take a few more months in some cases. Continue to point and name objects and engage your baby in conversations. 

Even though your baby probably won’t speak in the first year of their life, they are learning communication skills and new vocabulary all the time, and they understand plenty more than they can say at this point! 

The more you engage your little one in communication and language through talking, stories, and songs, the easier it will be for them to learn!

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