I remember the first time my daughter waved bye-bye to me. She was seven and a half months old, and the milestone came just weeks before other gestures, like pointing and shaking her head. Suddenly, my helpless newborn had turned into an expressive human being capable of real communication.
Babies begin waving at varying ages. Like walking and talking, waving happens on a unique timetable for each individual child, with a wide bell-curve of normalcy. If you're wondering when your baby will start waving bye-bye, here are some points to consider.
1. Babies usually wave at about 8-9 months of age.In general, a baby will begin using one or two gestures (most often waving, head-shaking or pointing) at around the ninth month of life. During this time in your baby's development, she is learning that words and gestures have symbolic meanings. At the same time, she is developing the early fine-motor skills necessary for waving bye-bye.
2. Babies can wave any time before 14 months and still have normal development. A baby will use his first gesture, waving or otherwise, between at 7 and 12 months of age. As long as your baby is using some kind of gesture before the twelfth month -- and is waving bye-bye by the 14th month -- his development is ultimately normal.
3. Babies don't understand the significance of "bye-bye" until after they learn to wave.At first, a baby may wave bye-bye as a simple imitation. He does it to directly emulate a behavior he sees in his parents, caregivers and siblings. A toddler learns the specific meanings of gestures a few weeks or months after learning the gestures themselves. Soon, your baby will learn to equate waving with someone temporarily leaving sight.
4. A baby's wave isn't mature until toddlerhood. It's completely normal for babies to wave bye-bye backwards, with their palm facing themselves. Babies may begin waving by opening and closing their fingers rapidly or by waving an entire arm. Expect your baby to develop a more mature, "correct" wave some time between 1 and 2 years of age.
5. Consult your baby's doctor if you're concerned.If your baby isn't waving "on time" -- if he isn't gesturing at all by 12 months or waving by 14 months -- get in touch with his pediatrician. Odds are high that there is nothing wrong, and that your baby simply needs a little more time than his same-age peers. Nevertheless, it can be beneficial to seek early help when your child shows signs of delays. An evaluation by a pediatrician can help to determine if your child has a delay, and how you can best handle the situation.
A more comprehensive list of developmental milestones can be found here.
Related Work by Juniper Russo