The Power of Pointing

Pointing is far more than simply a cute thing a baby does. It marks a significant milestone in your child's development and visual perception skills.

Why Learning to Point is Important

Between the ages of nine and 12 months, your baby should finally be able to let you know about their feelings, thoughts and ideas. They do this by pointing — a powerful communication tool. Before this exciting and new development, trying to figure out what a baby needs can be a complete "guessing game." Six-month-olds rely mostly on vocalizations like crying and body language to tell you what they want. 

When your baby starts pointing, it's a sign they developed certain communication and social skills. It shows you your baby can now get your attention, send you a message and try to influence your reactions or actions to whatever they're pointing to — all with their little finger. 

Another reason learning to point is important is it encourages you to talk about what it is your baby is pointing at. Pointing encourages you to label objects your baby finds fascinating and helps them learn words.

Ways to Prompt Children to Point

A great way of encouraging pointing is by pointing yourself. Your baby will begin understanding what pointing is about when you point to things during daily life. Start out by pointing at objects that are near your child, like a toy close to where you're playing together or perhaps a tasty snack that's slightly out of reach. Then later on try to point to things a bit further away, like something fascinating across the room.

You can also:

  • Show your baby how to sign. Baby sign language is an efficient way of teaching your baby to point.
  • Model the behavior yourself. You can do this easily. When reading books to your baby, point at different pictures.
  • Blow bubbles. Blow bubbles with your child and use your finger to pop the bubbles. Your baby will soon start using their finger to pop the bubbles too.

Pointing Activities Children Can Do in the Summer 

There are activities you can do in the summer to help your child point. For instance, you can take them to the zoo and have them point out the animals. Take them to the airport and point to the airplanes taking off. Or, lie down in your backyard and point out different shapes in the clouds. 

There are many ways to be creative with helping your child point. Talk with your child's pediatric occupational therapist for ideas.

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