It’s not quite in the same ballpark as crawling, walking, or first words, but your baby clapping for the first time is a milestone worth celebrating.
Perhaps the best thing about your baby learning to crash their teeny-tiny hands together is that it might be one of the earliest ways that they actively communicate with you. That, and it’s super adorable.
So, if you want to know more about baby claps, we’ve got the whys, whens, and whats all laid out below.
Why do babies clap?
In the same way that body language can tell us a lot about what somebody is thinking without them saying it out loud, baby clapping is a form of non-verbal communication.
In the first stages of clapping, your baby might just be mimicking your movements. But, as time goes on, clapping can become a way for your baby to express how they feel before they can put it into words.
When do babies learn to clap?
Wondering what age do babies clap? It’s thought that babies begin to clap around nine months, although that’s a rough estimate — it could be earlier or later for your little one.
If you’re looking for ways to encourage your baby to clap, you could:
- Get musical: In the words of Pharell’s Happy, “clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.” Lots of children’s songs involve clapping. If You’re Happy and You Know It and Wind the Bobbin Up are classics. Making up your own songs can be fun too.
- Play games: “Patty Cake” and “Down Down Baby” are both games you can start clapping and tapping along to with your baby. You could also give your baby a round of applause every time they put the jigsaw pieces in the correct place or (fingers crossed!) help you to put the toys back in the box.
- Start slowly: Did you know the average speed of a round of applause is 2.5-5 claps per second? As adults, we often take this speediness for granted. As your little one gets used to the hand-eye coordination of clapping, try clapping faster and slower together.
As well as clapping, other hand motions such as waving and pointing are considered milestone moments by the CDC.
As these are all different gestures, they’ll probably happen at different times. The general advice is that if your little one isn’t clapping, pointing, or waving around the one-year mark, it may be best to mention it to your pediatrician.
What does my baby’s clap mean?
If you’ve been rocking out to some of your favorite tunes and clapping along, your baby may start to mirror your claps and get their little hands and legs moving too. This initial baby clapping response may develop into “freestyle” clapping when your baby begins to clap just because they feel like it.
It takes a significant amount of hand-eye coordination and a big leap in their motor skills for your baby to clap. As well as working their bodies, they’ll be working their brains and developing concentration and cognitive skills. They may clap:
- When they like something (more tickles, please!)
- To express excitement (is that my favorite snack you’re making?)
- When they’re feeling extra proud of themselves
- Because they want you to clap too
- To experiment with their developing motor skills
- Because they want to join in all of the fun
Other hand gesture-related FAQs:
How do you teach a baby to clap?
Babies like to copy our actions, so showing your little one how to clap is a great way to get them clapping too. You could also gently bring their hands together while saying “clap, clap, clap.”
At what age do babies wave bye-bye?
It’s thought that babies start to wave bye-bye from six months onwards, but this could happen any time between then and their first birthday.
When should a baby start pointing?
Your baby might add pointing to their list of skills at around the 12-month mark.
This gesture often comes last because there’s more intent behind it, with your baby actively pointing at things they want, like their favorite toys, pets, food, or games.
👶 More baby milestones:
Your Guide to Baby’s First Haircut
When Do Babies Lose Their Hair? And Why?
Baby Growth Spurts: What are the Milestones?
When Do Babies Start Talking?
When Do Babies See Color?
When Do Babies Start Smiling?
When Do Babies Sit Up?
When Do Babies Start Teething?
When Do Babies Stop Spitting Up?
When Do Babies Start Cooing?
When Do Babies Get Kneecaps?
When Do Babies Grow Hair?
When Do Babies Walk? The Timeline for Toddling
When Do Babies Start Dreaming?
When Can Babies Eat Baby Food?
What Are the Different Stages of Crawling?
When Do Babies Make Eye Contact?
When Do Babies Start Laughing?
When Can Babies Hold Their Head Up?