Gestures are important for communication development

By June 12, 2024 June 13th, 2024 Speech Pathology
Child learning gestures by clapping to communicate

Gestures are movements children use to communicate before they can talk. They are an important part of early development. Here’s how young children develop them:

    Early Movements:

    Babies start by moving their arms and hands. These movements are not always purposeful but help them learn how their bodies work.


    Around 9-12 months, babies begin to point at things they want or find interesting. Pointing helps them communicate their needs and interests before they can use words.


    Babies often learn to wave goodbye around the same time. This simple gesture helps them understand and participate in social interactions.


    Babies reach out to be picked up or to grab objects. This shows they can use reaching to get what they want.


    Clapping hands is another common one. Babies might clap to show they are happy or to imitate what they see others doing.

    Shaking Head:

    By around 12 months, babies may start shaking their heads to say “no.” This helps them express refusal or disagreement.

     Symbolic Gestures:

    As they grow, children start using more complex gestures. For example, they might pretend to eat by bringing an empty hand to their mouth.

    Combining Gestures and Words:

    As children begin to talk, they often use gestures along with words. For example, they might say “up” while raising their arms to be picked up.

    Understanding Gestures:

    Children also learn to understand gestures from others. They can follow a point or understand a wave, which helps them navigate social interactions.


    Children learn many gestures by imitating adults and older children. They watch and copy what others do.

     Encouraging Interaction:

    Gestures help children interact with others before they can use full sentences. This early communication is crucial for their social and emotional development.

    Overall, they are a key part of how young children learn to communicate. They bridge the gap between understanding and speaking, helping children express themselves and connect with others. As they grow, gestures evolve and become more complex, supporting their journey into verbal communication.

    Children with developmental delays may not use gesture to communicate. In particular, children with autism find it hard to use them. we expect children to acquire 16 gestures by the age of 16 months.  At OneOnOne Children’s Therapy we use the Early Start Denver Model to teach gestures to young children with autism. Our Speech Pathologists teach them to young children with developmental delays. The research shows us that children who gesture are more likely to talk. Children who do not gesture, may be slow to talk or may not talk.

    If your child does not use gestures, especially if they are delayed or have autism, learning gestures is important.

    Enhance Your Child’s Communication with Gestures

    Is your child having difficulty using gestures to communicate effectively? At OneOnOne Children’s Therapy we offer specialised Speech Pathology programs at our Bondi Junction and Mascot clinics designed to improve your child’s use of gestures, enhancing their overall communication skills.

    Our expert Speech Pathologists use fun, engaging techniques to help your child incorporate gestures into their communication repertoire. Whether it’s waving, pointing, or using other meaningful gestures, we tailor our approach to meet your child’s unique needs and developmental stage.

    Don’t wait—take the first step towards improving your child’s communication skills. Call us on (02) 80657837 to schedule a consultation with us today at either our Bondi Junction or Mascot clinic and discover how our specialised program can make a significant difference. Together, we can help your child express themselves more effectively and confidently.