Learning Gestures Before Words

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Early intervention, Speech

An important part of speech development is imitating sounds. Every parent looks forward to their child saying “dada” or “mama” because that is often the start of communication! During our development of speech and language, we first master imitating big body movements and small body movements before imitating words. Here are some simple gestures you can work on with your child before sound imitation:

  • Shaking their head
  • Reaching/raising arms
  • Waving “hi” or “bye”
  • Showing 
  • Pointing 
  • Clapping
  • Blowing kisses
  • Shh gesture 
  • Head nod/thumbs up
  • High five

Arms raised





Gestures act as an early form of communication and can help your child communicate: preference, draw attention or show the things they are interested in, show excitement, to greet or farewell, etc. Sometimes gestures are merely a fun way to interact and imitate one another during play. Gestures can also lead to learning American Sign Language as a form of communication. If you do not see your child imitating these gestures between 9-16 months old, please contact a speech therapist today at T.E.A.M. 4 Kids.  

 Megan MacIlroy, MS CCC-SLP