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As a baby starts growing up, there are numerous signs we tend to keep looking out for. The first smile, the first word, and many others are major milestones that not only help mark the normal milestones of growth but are moments to be treasured as well. For a baby, to learn to clap is a small milestone too, as a child not only discovers his hands but also learns to use both of them together to express an emotion.
When Do Babies Start Clapping?
There is no specific baby clapping milestone age as such, since the time when a baby claps his hands is unique for each kid. Newborn children usually have their fists curled up and rarely make use of their hands in the early stages. As time passes by, around 12 weeks or so, babies start discovering their hands and learn they are a part of the body. Around 24 weeks, they can attempt to start holding things or switch them between hands. As they complete 30 weeks, most babies can hold things properly and bang them here and there.
It is around this stage of 25 to 30 weeks that a baby might clap for the first time and be surprised by it. They usually do that by observing someone using their hands in a similar manner. Their palms may not touch exactly but the motion is reminiscent of clapping for sure.
Why Do Babies Clap Hands?
As adults, we tend to clap our hands for numerous reasons ranging from personal to social. It could be applause or to grab someone’s attention or simply an expression of our own. For babies, the reasons are a combination of personal and social as well.
1. Sense of Achievement
Babies are skilled observers and they tend to pick up social signs and cues rapidly. Most parents begin to encourage their children to carry out certain activities and then clap their hands when the kid gets it done. This aspect of validation is what a child starts understanding pretty soon. Therefore, a child may clap for himself as well if he manages to do something that was asked of him or he had set his own mind onto.
2. Vision Skills
To know when should a baby start clapping hands, it is important to realize that a baby needs to discover his hands first. It is only when a child understands the presence of his limbs and the degree of control he has over them that he may attempt to clap. At times, a child may simply be checking his own vision skills and wondering what happens if two hands meet slowly and speedily. The sound of clap could be a result of this exploration.
3. Motor Skills
This is one of the prime ages for the motor skills of your child to start developing. Right from holding objects to throwing them or passing them around, most of these are signs of your little one getting used to the possibilities that there are with his own limbs. Clapping is also a way of him improving his motor skills and learning the best way of coordinating two hands to move towards each other in the same arc at the same time.
How to Encourage Your Baby to Clap Hands
When parents wonder how to teach a baby to clap, it needs to be understood there isn’t a necessity to specifically teach them as such. With the skills of observation and slight encouragement, your child can start clapping by himself.
- Mix clapping with other activities. If you are playing with him, start clapping rapidly and then wait for some time. With enough repetition, your child might pick on it and try to imitate your actions. If needed, you can hold his hands gently and mimic the motion slowly. Don’t move them rapidly as that is bound to scare the child.
- Combine your clapping with laughter. That is one of the ways your child understands to associate the act with positive emotion. Let your laughter be loud and your clapping exaggerated. Your child needs some time to process the motion of the hand and try to repeat it.
- While clapping, hold your hands near your face and keep talking to your baby. This maintains a single point of focus and your baby will be able to see the hands clapping quite easily.
- Don’t clap out of the blue while your baby is sleeping or has just awoken. Introduce this when he is in a playful mood or make it a habit to clap together when feeding is completed.
- Never rush. There’s no race to be won by learning to clap. Enjoy how your kid picks up the skill and love him for that.
When to Consult a Doctor
Though there is no precise infant clapping milestone, most children start using their hands by completing 6 months of age or a little more, even if they cannot clap. In case your child does not show any movement or even any interest when you clap, he might be suffering from a developmental disorder and needs to be checked by the doctor soon.
The social benefit of clapping is immense as it is a combination of happiness and validation, which is what supports human life in a society. If your kid picks it up quickly, it will help him develop the basics of communication.