Did you know that many infants can follow our eye gazes to an interesting toy at 6 months and can follow a pointing finger by 9 or 10 months? Before babies can point to direct our attention, they have to learn to follow our pointing finger. And, if a baby can look where mommy or daddy is gazing or pointing, she is able to direct her attention to what mom or dad thinks is important. Gazing and pointing develop naturally for infants and you may not have paid attention to them. You can use this activity to notice the development of gazing and pointing skills in your baby. The development of these skills will help your baby to focus on the items that you are talking about and help her with understanding the sounds of language.
Step 1: Move your baby’s highchair or seat to a new place in the house for her to sit.
Step 2: When she is comfortable and alert in her new surroundings, look at something interesting that faces your baby, call her name and then look at it. For example, say, “Ava!” and then look in the direction of the interesting object (perhaps a toy). Does your child follow your gaze to the object? Don’t say anything more than her name to get her attention. See if she can rely on just your gaze to know where to look. If she can’t do this, try it in about a month. She will surprise you when she starts to do it!
Step 3: If your baby can follow your gaze, you can try the same thing with pointing. Try this starting at about 8 months. When your baby is comfortably seated, point at something interesting in the distance. Initially, your baby may just look at the end of your finger when you point. If so, try it again in about a month. By 8 or 10 months, you should see a shift in her ability to understand that points indicate what speakers want them to see.