When Will My Baby Wave?
Waving is a somewhat unremarkable action for an adult, that is until their child learns to wave! Seeing your child waving as a greeting, or to say goodbye is quite a symbolic gesture for a parent because it shows a basic level of understanding that someone has either arrived or is leaving (or maybe just passing as you wave at all the passengers on a bus!).
From the day they are born your baby will be moving their arms and legs. To begin with the movements may often be involuntary or erratic looking and with little coordination. As time goes on they will gain more control over their limbs and begin to make more deliberate movements - intentionally putting their hands and feet in their mouths for example. As your baby gets older and they observe parents, siblings and other people using their hands in different ways, they will start copying simple movements such as clapping and waving.
How Can You Encourage Waving?
Most physical actions are learnt by babies copying other people so the best way to encourage your baby to start waving is to do it yourself. Wave hello and goodbye to your visitors or to your partner when they come and go from the house. Wave hello to characters in books or the birds in the garden, they'll soon get the idea and they will start to copy in their own time.
As your child learns the meaning of waving you will find they start to do it in appropriate scenarios although this doesn't always happen straight away. You may find, for example, that your baby always waves at the front door after someone has left. Once your child does get the hang of waving goodbye to people it can be a reassuring sign that they understand that someone is leaving without being upset.
When Does Waving Normally Start?
Physical actions will come to different children at different times, although most children should be able to wave by the age of a year and a lot will start doing it around 7 months. They may not know what it means at first and may just be copying the actions of you and other children but gradually they will associate the action with saying hello and goodbye.
All babies develop at very different rates and if your baby hasn't reached the same milestones as other people's babies the chances are there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned that your child is very late in reaching one or a number of milestones then it is sensible to seek further professional advice from either your health visitor or GP. We have more information on the variable rates of development in babies here.