our everyday life

Baby Development & Clapping

by Kristine Tucker, studioD

Clapping is a significant developmental stage is your baby's life. It shows that she's becoming more self-aware and is expanding her motor skills. Clapping is a response to the world around her, so it's also her way of expressing positive emotions such as excitement, curiosity and enjoyment. Clapping is usually the first step in a whole new series of interactions that show your child's desire to communicate with those she loves.

First Clapping Experience

Clapping is a developmental step that demonstrates your baby's ability to connect with his environment. According to the website What to Expect, a baby often experiences his first clapping experience around 7 months of age. Your child might clap when he sees the lights on a Christmas tree, when he knows he's getting a late morning snack, when he hears music or when he sees his puppy running around the house. Don't worry if his first few claps are hit-and-miss, or if he only claps once or twice. He isn't really even using hand-eye coordination and probably won't look at his hands much. His attention is focused on the person or thing he's happy to see.


Clapping shows the development of your baby's gross motor skills, but it also demonstrates her cognitive and social advancements. According to the AskDrSears website, babies often clap because they're imitating what they see their parents, caregivers and siblings do. Babies get excited when they learn to copy behavior -- but they might not get it quite right when they start. When your baby begins to clap, praise her and repeat the action yourself. Your positive reassurance and cheerful disposition might keep her clapping for half an hour.


At 7 or 8 months of age, your baby typically can only coo, giggle or repeat one syllable phrases, such as "ba-ba" or "ya-ya." According to the What to Expect website, clapping is your baby's new attempt to communicate with important people in his life. He might clap to get a sibling's attention or use it to show enthusiasm for something he enjoys. He might "clap" on the water while he's taking a bath, or "clap" on his high-chair tray while eating. Babies typically associate clapping with happiness and excitement, so they might even squeal or giggle as they clap. On rare occasions, a first clap might startle your child because he didn't realize he could communicate that way. If he seems unsettled by his new display of emotion, reassure him with kind words. You might say, "What a big boy, you're clapping." You can also take his hands in yours and demonstrate the clapping motion with him. More than likely, he'll want to try it again on his own soon.

Next Steps

Clapping is only the first step in a whole series of developments. Soon, your baby will begin to point at things and mimic other behaviors she sees. She might pat your glasses, touch your face and start to reach for things she wants. As her curiosity increases, use the opportunity to teach her new words. She won't be able to talk much, but she'll associate words with objects. Keep in mind that her mental vocabulary is much larger than her speaking vocabulary. When she touches your glasses, say, "glasses." Or when she points at her puppy, say, "That's the puppy, Max." While baby language is cute, don't hesitate to use real words as she explores the world around her. One day, she might point at the banana you're holding and surprise you with the phrase, "Na-nah."

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images