As your baby begins to grow and develop, you'll marvel at all the new things he's able to do. One of the most significant milestones you'll notice is his ability to clap his hands. Clapping hands is actually the culmination of his constant development and understanding of his body, and the mastering of his new trick should be viewed as a significant accomplishment.
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Hand Development in Babies
When your baby is born, her hands are virtually useless to her. She usually keeps her hands closed and isn't capable of holding anything yet. Around the time she's 3 months, she starts to understand that her hands are part of her body and that she can control the items that are placed in her hands. When she's 5 or 6 months, she makes a huge breakthrough by realizing that she can pass things from one hand to the other. This realization is a crucial development in learning how to clap.
Your baby might be able to clap his hands as early as 6 months old. It might not be a loud clap, and his hands might not even touch each other, but the motion of him bringing his two hands together is undeniable. By 9 months, most babies are able to clap; however, if your baby isn't clapping yet, it's not a serious cause for alarm.
Significance of Clapping
Your baby's clapping illustrates her development in so many different ways. It shows that she knows her hands can be used together to achieve one goal. It also shows that she has the vision skills to see what her hands are capable of. Lastly, clapping shows that she has the motor skills to successfully bring her hands together on demand.
It's likely that your baby would never show any interest in clapping if he didn't see other people clap. You can encourage him to clap by communicating to him as much as you can, particularly when it comes to celebrating his achievements and good behavior. Clapping for him gives him plenty of incentive to practice clapping on his own. The more he claps, the better his skills will develop, both in terms of clapping and in his general motor skills.
Putting it All Together
Most babies begin to clap because it's something new to do, not because they understand that it's an expression of joy. By the time she's a year, she'll learn that clapping does have a meaning, and she'll clap whenever she becomes happy. When your baby greets you by smiling and clapping, it not only means she's happy to see you, but also that she's developing very well and has made huge strides physically and mentally.