That the ability to point is a major milestone? Why? Because it is a very powerful and effective form of communication. A recent study found that 1-year-old babies use pointing as a way to engage and connect with adults. In the study, after a baby pointed, the adult paid attention and showed a lot of interest in the baby’s pointing.
For example, the adult looked at the baby and where the baby was pointing, and talked about what the baby was pointing at. Babies loved this—they would point more frequently and pointed longer each time in order to keep the positive interaction going.
Reference: Liszkowski, U., Carpenter, M., Henning, A., Striano, T., & Tomasello, M. (2004). Twelve-month-olds point to share attention and interest. Developmental Science, 7(3), 297-307.
What the Research Means for You
Before babies can use words, pointing is one of the most powerful ways they connect and communicate with you. When you share your baby’s interest and excitement about his discoveries, you send the message that he is loved and important.
Your baby also learns that he is a good communicator and that others care about his thoughts and feelings. So next time your baby points something out, take the time to stop, look, and talk with him about what he’s interested in and wanting to share with you. Moments like these build your baby’s language and thinking skills, his self-esteem and confidence, and his relationship with you.