Bye-Bye! Your Child’s First Wave
Waving is one of the earliest forms of communication that babies learn. If there's anything cuter than a big grin and a cheerful, "bye!" and wave from your baby you probably won't find out what it is until you catch it in a picture. Most babies learn to wave when they are between 8 and 12 months old. They often accompany a wave with a verbal approximation of “bye.” If your baby hasn't started waving yet, some fun practice can help get that little hand going.
When adults communicate, they typically use words, but they also use a wide variety of gestures. Pointing, waving and holding out an object are gestures that your baby will use before or while he is learning to talk. When your baby waves as someone leaves, he is interested in that person and notices when he or she is gone. Waving also shows that your baby understands that communication with other people is important―and that gestures can also mean words. Your baby is interested in and participating in what is going on around him and he's starting to show it. This is also the time when your baby might start handing you a favorite object or bringing you a toy or book, so you will spend time with him. At this age, it’s also not unusual for babies to get upset when you leave or to begin to show some anxiety around unfamiliar people.
Working on Waving
Waving, pointing and other gestures are how your baby communicates before she is able to use words. Most babies will start to wave after watching people wave to each other throughout the day. If your baby doesn’t start waving on her own, you can have fun practicing with her. Wave and smile when people leave or when you go somewhere. Exaggerate the gesture a bit or take her hand and help her wave. Look in a mirror together and wave at your baby’s image, or walk away and wave with an enthusiastic “bye,” and return to her smiling. The key is to keep all these games fun so that she will want to play with you and learn to enjoy communicating with others.
Waving “bye” is an important gesture that tells you that your baby is developing both social and nonverbal language skills. If your toddler does not look up from what he is doing when you talk to him or even appear to notice when people arrive or leave, these signs indicate that he may not be paying attention to what is going on around him. If you have concerns, or if your toddler has not started waving by the time he is 15 months old, discuss it with your pediatrician.