When Do Babies Start Waving?

There are many exciting milestones happening during the first year of a baby’s life, and one of these shining moments is when a baby first begins to wave. When can parents expect that little hand to begin waving hello or goodbye?


During the first year of their lives, babies rapidly gain new cognitive skills and the ability to do a variety of physical gestures. Milestones like kicking, coordinating movements of the legs and arms, smiling and clapping are actually important steps in infant communication. Yes, babies begin communicating a long time before they can even talk!

As a baby develops motor control, she learns along the way that her hands and fingers can also be used for nonverbal communication (think about how an older baby will sometimes flail about or push an object away when he or she is unhappy or having a tantrum).

Little ones quickly learn that their hands are definitely a great and effective way to communicate! A big part of an infant’s development is learning how to wave.

When Will The First Wave Happen?

It’s hard to put an exact time frame on when a baby will first begin to wave, as every child is so different and will develop this new skill at his or her own pace. However, according to an article on Today.com, research carried out by ‘WhenMyBaby’ shows that 24 percent of parents stated that their babies began waving at the age of eight months.

Twenty percent of parents said their babies began waving goodbye at 11 months and 19 percent said their babies were 10 months old when they began waving. Most studies show that a baby will begin waving between the ages of eight and 12 months old, with an average age of around nine or 10 months being the start date.

Female babies have been said to master the skill a bit earlier. My daughter first began waving goodbye to family members at about eight months of age; now, at 14 months, she waves goodnight to her daddy and stuffed animals every evening!

Learning how to wave takes time.

Daniela Corbetta, PhD, studies infant fine motor development as an associate professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She says, “The hand is very complex. There are joints and muscles that need to be organized and can be moved in very different ways. Babies need to differentiate those sets of muscles to use their fingers, their hands, and their arms in a very fine-tuned fashion.”

Because of these hand complexities, there is a natural progression to acquiring the fine motor skill of  waving. Like many milestones, parents should not really worry if their children are a little delayed in accomplishing this skill.

Just like crawling, walking, pointing and clapping, babies will master waving when they are physically ready and in their own good time. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if a baby is not waving by a year old, it may be a red flag worth checking out.

Can’t wait to see your little one get started on waving hello and goodbye? Try helping him along with these ideas!

Tips for Encouraging Baby To Wave

  • You can teach your baby to wave by holding his or her hand and asking them to wave bye-bye to people leaving the house. You can also do the same thing when you say hello to any family members or friends who come over for a visit.
  • It has been suggested to model the waving behavior you would like to see and eventually your little one will follow suit.
  • Play games! Teach your little one finger games like Little Piggy and Pattycake by putting your hands in baby’s hands and modeling the actions; try clapping together; or try games like find your eyes, nose and mouth. To do this, hold your baby’s hands in your own and touch one of her hands to each of your eyes, your nose and your mouth. This will encourage your baby along the path of developing the movements needed to wave. Additionally, it will help develop other fine motor skills. 

Still worried that your baby is not on track? For peace of mind, check out this parenting.com article on age-by-age growth milestones.


Rhonda Mix

Rhonda is mom to a bright and sweet little girl. She enjoys writing for work, writing for fun and reading when time allows. Also passionate about travel, she has a fondness for Taiwan - where she once lived in a previous chapter of her life. She looks forward to all the adventures ahead and exploring new places with two of her biggest loves - her daughter and husband.

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