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Baby Steps: Little (Finger) Pointers

Babies are great communicators. Newborns cry to be fed. Infants bang their hands to show excitement. Eventually, they tell you what they want through pointing. Besides being an important milestone in language, it turns out pointing may predict social development, too.
  • the connection: "Children who pointed at a year old were less aggressive and more outgoing at two and three," says researcher Amy Vaughan Van Hecke, assistant professor of psychology at Marquette University in Milwaukee. She thinks the behavior paves the way for children to ask for and get what they need instead of acting out or withdrawing.
  • when to look for it: Pointing typically begins around the first birthday; if you don't see it by 16 months, talk to your doctor.
  • encouraging your pointer: Do a lot of air-jabbing yourself, and help her try her hand: Hold up two toys and ask which one she wants. Once she starts to practice, give her lots of "Good girls!" Etiquette may say the behavior isn't polite, but at this age, pointing may result in a more social child with good manners to boot.

Lisa Guernsey is the author of Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children From Birth to Age 5.

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