Your child sees a bird flying, and wants to share his excitement with you, because you are one of his best friends. Even though he doesn’t speak yet, he communicates with you, by pointing. In fact, children communicate right from birth. It’s the adults that sometimes don’t understand them.

Pointing with the index finger at an object of interest is a communication milestone. Most children will point between 9 and 14 months, around the same time children learn to respond to the sound of their names non-verbally. Some children may point a bit later, but if a child is not pointing by 18 months, this should be brought to the attention of his doctor, because it may be one of the first indications of an autism-spectrum disorder.

When your child points, he makes you talk and draws you into a conversation. Some authors suggest that those who point more at 12 months have better vocabulary at 2 years. Pointing also helps you build a bond with him as you both pay attention to the same thing for a while.

To encourage the development of this milestone, point out interesting things to your baby. When he begins to point, share in his excitement at whatever he is pointing at. Applaud him for communicating his need to you, or sharing whatever excites him. Then verbalise what he is trying to say. Use the opportunity to teach colours and numbers, by saying for example, ‘aah, you are right. That is one black bird flying up in the sky’.

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