What are gestures and why
are they so important?

Seana M. Speirs

Stop for a second and think about the first time you noticed your little one sending a message to you, intentionally!


What happened exactly? What did your child try to tell you and HOW did he or she let you know what he or she wanted ?


Perhaps it was the time your baby reached with arms up to let you know she wanted out of her crib. Or maybe it was the time that your little one dropped her cup off the highchair and reached her hand down to the floor, looked at you and made a sound like, “uh uh” to let you know she wanted it back. These moments of communication with the hands (sometimes paired with sounds) are gestures and they are the underlying skills that a young child develops before they begin to talk!


Most recent research from the Baby Navigator program at Florida State University has revealed that a young child with typically-developing communication skills will actually establish the use of 16 gestures by 16 months of age. There is so much learning going on in that first year of life!


You may be wondering about your own child under the age of 16 months. Maybe you are concerned that your child does not often send clear messages to you. It could be that the child is not tuning in to the parent’s face as much as another same-aged child. It may be that the child is more interested in objects: a favorite toy, the tupperware lids that are fun to dump out of the drawer , or the opening and closing of doors on a cupboard. Sometimes, not because of any fault of the parents , a child is just not as “watchful”, meaning they are not watching when the parent waves “bye”, they don’t seem to look when the parent points at something, or they don’t watch your face when you shake your head “no”. If this is something that you are thinking about, please know that it is not too early to look into getting some support to help you help your child! Early intervention often leads to some wonderful growth in a child’s intentional communication… and this helps get your child on-track for the production of those first words. If you feel you need some help in figuring out what gestures your child uses, it may be a good idea to consult with a paediatric speech – language pathologist .


I encourage you to check out the 16 by 16 lookbook from https://firstwordsproject.com/about-16by16/
About 16by16 – First Words Project
About the 16 by 16™ Series. The 16 by 16™ series is designed to help families and others learn the critical social communication skills that children should reach by 16 months in order to launch language learning, literacy, and much more by 24 months.
from the Florida State University for very clear descriptive and visual information on the development of gestures.


Please check out my instagram page for ideas to support gestures and read along in my blog . I am passionate about helping parents learn how to support their child’s social communication skills.


Together we can help your little one gain new communication skills through daily activities, books, songs and routines in the home!