Your baby pointing out at things is an important milestone which often is missed since you would find your baby doing so much else during this stage. This crucial milestone is something that you would find only the offsprings of humans do, no other living being would do it, this is really unique.
It is a baby’s way of communicating with the people around without talking, by indicating that they are interested in a particular object and are aware.
A small little activity that I used to do with my little girl was, pointing to a Tree’s painting on the wall every morning and then I would say ” Where is the Tree?” and my girl would look at it and then would point at it each morning and we would end up talking about the TREE!
Who would have thought pointing can be so important to a baby’s development? I have often overhear parents say to their baby ‘don’t point its rude’ however its amazing how pointing can play a vital role in helping baby progress to using their first words.
You would be able to assist the baby successfully with his first words in communication with others, if you respond appropriately when your baby points at various objects.
Our responses to a young baby can be very important for the development of his communication and language skills. A role that many of us perhaps play without realising how important our interactions can be in the baby’s first words’ development.
The basis of language is all right there in gestures.
Now that my girl goes to a school, I see how amazing it is to see how all the kids develop differently.
At one point I see a kid pointing and “talking” about almost EVERYTHING. I find this little muffin totally obsessed with pointing at various objects and people and ‘ discussing‘ the same with everyone. And in the same class I also see a baby pointing at things and have a, different conversation. For example-“dadadadada” or “mamamamama”.
Let’s look at what happens when our infant or toddler points to something and let’s also see the various things that their pointing should make us do :
1. Look at what they are pointing at.
The first thing you do when your baby points at something , is look at what they are are pointing at. Your baby wants you to attend to the same item of interest as they are attending to and this is a very important communication and social skill. This is called joint attention.
Babies who do not initiate joint attention may experience some difficulty in learning any language, being able to participate in any symbolic play, being able to understand various social cues, and being able to learn by observing and watching others around.
2. Label or name the object they are pointing at.
When your baby points to something, one of the first things you may find yourself doing is simply naming or labeling the item of interest. For example, let’s say your baby points to a squirrel sitting on your window. You probably will say something like “Look! That’s a squirrel !”. The baby will learn the names of many objects, by pointing at them and showing you. So its really important for a parent to name the object the baby is pointing to, as the baby’s mind will try to register it in his/her tiny brain.
3. Describe what they are pointing at.
After you have labeled the bird on the window, you may find yourself describing it. You may find yourself saying something like “Yes, that’s a squirrel. Its resting on the window. Soon after taking the rest it will run away high on the TREE !”. Now your baby is learning more words like run, high, tree and window in addition to the label squirrel. So far, your baby has been exposed to five new words, simply by pointing out an object to you.
4. Ask them questions about what they are pointing at.
Even if you know your baby can’t actually answer yet, ask your baby questions about the object . For example, you may say something like “ Can you hear the sound the squirrel is making? It makes chittering sound!”. Or maybe when it starts to run away “Where is the squirrel? Where has it gone?”. Asking your baby these questions, even though they can’t answer them yet, it would provide your baby with a model for asking questions, as babies learn from what they hear and see.
When should we expect a baby to be pointing?
Each baby develops this skill differently at different times like any other skill. When I was doing a research for this article, there was a very large range for pointing: most websites said around 12 months, some said around 9-15 months, and one site even said 18 months. However, it is vital to understand that this range normally would include all the various forms of gestures, and would just talk about pointing. These gestures include making gestures towards objects, waving, clapping or using other gestures to communicate.
We can define gesture by ‘ use of any body action ( i.e. hands, face, head or any other part) that can be used to convey any message, either without speech or paired with speech. So if your baby is around 12 months and is not observed pointing at objects, however he is using other forms of gestures to communicate, hold on tight because it is probably going to come soon! That said, if your baby isn’t observed pointing to express his liking towards any object by around 15 months, I would certainly suggest you to consult your pediatrician just in case.
What can be done to help teach my baby to point?
First of all, lead by example. Yes now apart fom following this at work, you gotto follow this at home as well with your baby. It’s extremely important to point at things to show examples.
You can walk around your house and name and point at various objects. Do the same when you step out of your house, in the playground, grocery shop, or in the card. Play pointing games with your toddler. Point to your body parts and his body parts while naming or labeling them. Play goodnight games ( walk around the house pointing at things and saying goodnight to them).
One fun way to teach pointing is to blow bubbles for your baby, and practice popping them with your fingers (many babies will naturally use their first finger to try to pop them). Model both pointing at the bubbles and popping them. Make sure you are using language the whole time.
Whenever your baby does start to point, the best thing to do is get REALLY excited about whatever it is he is pointing to! Give lots of attention to the pointing, which will keep your baby motivated and enthusiastic about it. Some babies with delays, like those with autism, may need more direct teaching on how to point, like hand-over-hand instruction with immediate reinforcement. This type of instruction needs to be tailored to the specific baby by a professional (and then taught to the parents) such as a speech-language pathologist or a board certified behavior analyst.
Most babies will start pointing to objects on their own. The best course of action is Modeling often.
If your baby is not pointing by 15 months, or is not using any gestures by 12 months, you should bring it up with your pediatrician just to be safe.
I strongly believe in breaking all the stereotype ways of parenting.
For me parenting is all about love and fun. My girls and I believe in jamming out in the car, in dancing in the rains, and in miracles. We believe in smiling till our cheek hurt and laughing till our neighbours’ ears burst. Parenting definitely comes with loads of challenges,but trust me facing these challenges becomes much more easier by having a fun and a happy attitude towards it.