Reading Gestures


Reading Gestures

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care. All rights reserved.

Babies use gestures to communicate ideas such as “Pick me up!” and “All done!” Gestures are an important bridge to spoken language, so tune in when you see a baby using them. 

Try the following ideas when you notice babies using gestures.

  • Repeat a baby’s gesture and give her words to go along with the gesture.
  • Play a game such as “Pat-a-Cake” or “Trot Trot to Boston” with a young baby. See if she can tell you that she wants more or that she’s had enough. She might clap or bounce for more, or turn or push away to tell you to stop.
  • Point to something a baby is looking at and name it. See if she will point to it. For example, you might place a favorite toy where she can see it and ask, Where’s Bunny? When baby points, respond with enthusiasm, Yes, there it is! Let’s go get Bunny!
  • Teach an older baby some conventional gestures, such as waving or shaking her head.

It is easier for babies to know what you mean when you point or use gestures as you speak. Baby Sign (pairing words with specific gestures) makes it easier for babies to communicate as well as to understand your words.

  • If some of your babies are learning Baby Sign or another signed language at home, have a family member teach you the signs they use with their baby so you can reinforce them.
  • Also, make sure families know any signs that you use in your caregiving setting so they can use them at home.
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page