Just In Time: When Do Babies Start Waving, Clapping, And Pointing?

Growing up is not a competition. Just like all normal parents, you might be like “OMG, is my baby delayed? Why is he not yet doing this and that?” I understand your anxiety; I’ve been there.

Just like every parent, you are wondering about whether you are good enough, especially if you baby fails to catch up. A lot of new moms have asked me recently about when do kids start pointing, clapping or waving. When do kids start doing these motor milestones aren’t written in stone. But what is normal and when should you be concerned?


​Right On Schedule: Baby Clapping, Pointing, And Waving As A Milestone

When do Babies Start Pointing

As per my experience, my little girl took about 12 months before she learns to clap. I lost track on when she had learned to wave or point. As far as I remember, she is already a noisy babbling baby even before she learned how to make good use of her little hands.

I asked my child’s pediatrician if my little one is alright. Well, guess what, she is just right on track! When do kids start pointing or waving varies, but it is usually at about 8-12 months. Clapping, waving and pointing are considered milestones by doctors due to the confirmation of baby’s vision and motor skills development.

Do not beat yourself if your child has yet to clap or point or achieve another milestone. It is not your fault. A few professional athletes are themselves late bloomers. Even the legendary Einstein has been mistaken as retarded just because he is way delayed in his speech.

Your child might not be much of a clapper, but maybe he is more of a babbler or perhaps a thinker? How can you encourage your baby to clap, wave or point things out?

1. Model the way. Say bye-bye whenever with your child whenever a family member goes out of the door. Play clap-clap and show appreciation whenever she does something nice. Hold her hands together and let her make some noise. Sing some nursery rhymes and let your child follow along.

2. Let your little one explore with her hands. Give your little munchkin toys appropriate for her age. Puzzles and blocks improve a child’s eye to hand coordination. Let her also learn how to make fine finger gesture by letting her play with a piano or toys with buttons. Ask your child for what he wants and let him learn to point his index finger to get it.

3. Reinforce identification using fingers. Teach your little one the location of her eyes, nose, and mouth. Let her point out her own, and then identify it also on your face. Make this a fun game to reinforce identification.

​Baby’s 8-12 Months: What To Expect

When do Babies Start Clapping

The typical time when babies start waving happen before his first birthday. This is the crucial stage where the child will benefit a lot from his interactions and playtime with you. He is growing fast and learning faster than ever before. Around this time, your little one must be doing most the following:

  • Play peek-a-boo, reach out and look for his favorite toys
  • Pick up food and toys using his thumb and pointer finger
  • Crawl and sit on his own, attempt to stand up and try to walk
  • Babble random words that sound more like a foreign language
  • Shows emotions; appears attached to parents, siblings or carer
  • Copy sound and hand gestures especially during play

If your 8-12-month-old shows most of the following behaviors, then don’t think twice and have your child seen by his doctor:

  • Doesn’t smile, shows no separation anxiety or has barely detectable emotions
  • Prefers a particular hand and uses it a lot more than the other
  • Appears uninterested in following moving objects, won’t look up and show no eye contact or affection toward his carers
  • Isn’t turning his head toward flashy toys, sounds or voices
  • Can’t sit up unsupported or crawl on his own
  • Won’t interact with family members, doesn’t follow clapping or pointing games

Factors That Can Delay A Child’s Motor Development

The range for what’s normal is far and wide. A delayed development timetable doesn’t immediately equate to a lifetime of catching up. Some babies are born late bloomers while others are simply milestone skippers. Won't it help if you know the common factors that delay a child’s development particularly for pointing, waving and clapping? Here are some of them:

1. Eyesight

Every child is born near sighted; he/she can only clearly see your face when he is at the level of your breasts. His vision starts to turn 20/20 starting at six months of age. Eye and body coordination skills should have been developed before your child turns one year old.

If your child isn’t fond of using his hands at 12 months of age or older, it might be because of poor eyesight. Your baby might not be too keen about what his hands can do because he isn’t seeing them clear. Babies that are born as premies have a higher incidence of vision problems. If your child has trouble distinguishing faces or toys, then let a doctor or optometrist assess him.

2. Penchant for another form of expression

Your little kid might be a late bloomer on the pointing and waving aspect because he has adopted another form of self-expression.

He might not be much of a pointer because he has learned how to crawl or tip toe to get what he wants. Or perhaps he likes to do it his way, banging his hands on things instead of pointing. It can also be because he has learned how to babble words early on, so he sees no reason to point when he can easily shout to get mom’s attention.

Clapping, pointing and waving are all learned skill. Sometimes, they learn it all on their own, but most of the time, you’ve got to show them how to do it.

3. Genetic factors

Your little one must have a thorough check-up and newborn screening to rule out genetic factors. Diagnoses such as muscular dystrophy and Down’s syndrome can have a significant effect on a child’s development.

If you suspect your child to be clumsier than usual and have delayed physical and communication skills, take him to his pediatrician.

4. Autism

Autism can be diagnosed by looking for particular behavior red flags. Odd behavior typical of autism can be observed as early as at 9-12 months old. Early signs of autism can include lack of eye contact and failure to follow a parent’s pointed finger.

The child might have entirely missed his pointing, clapping or waving milestones. He/she doesn’t have the interest to play with caregivers and is not keen with copying sounds or gestures. There are a lot of factors that contribute to autism. If your little one exhibits one or more of this signs, do not assume until a developmental doctor sees your baby.



No two children are alike; even siblings can have different personalities and develop at their phases. The timeframe when babies start to clap, point or wave varies. What’s essential is to ensure consistent interaction and quality time with the child.

Kids learn best through imitation, so it is best to show him the way through plays. Growing children is a big labor of love. Do not torment yourself, just guide and watch them grow. So chill and relax, you still have a long way to go.


Sarah Morgan

Chief editor of WellBeingKid.com and striving mom-extraordinaire.Let me share and inspire you with my daily struggles to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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