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Baby Milestones 13-18 Months: Help Your Baby Say His First Word

Like to talk with your hands? Keep it up -- you're helping your baby's language development. In a new study from the University of Chicago, 14-month-olds who frequently gestured to communicate were more likely to have bigger vocabularies at age 5 than the toddlers who didn't gesture as much. And those who pointed at many different things took their cues from their parents. "Talking to your baby is known to develop speech, but we found that gesturing can be just as helpful," says Susan Goldin-Meadow, Ph.D., study coauthor. You don't have to start waving your arms around when you talk, but do point when you're interacting with your baby, since it's the most effective gesture for communicating. Once your baby learns to point to a ball because she wants to play or to the door because she wants to go outside, your conversations will really start to take off.