When Do Babies Clap? Age And 5 Activities To Encourage Them

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Clapping hands is an achievement many parents look forward to in their babies. You may wonder when do babies clap their hands and how you may promote it. Clapping is one of the various infantile developmental milestones, which can be stimulated with the right amount of interaction and encouragement.

Once a baby begins to clap, they may do so for various reasons, including showing affection and amusement. The gesture may also signal that the baby’s motor skills and coordination are developing normally. This post explains all about babies clapping their hands and encouraging them through activities.

When Do Babies Start Clapping?

Babies can usually clap hands from nine months, the age when babies begin to imitate gestures, including hand gestures, made by others (1). It is okay if a nine-month-old does not clap. They may gradually develop the skill and clap by their first birthday.

Why Do Babies Clap Hands?

Babies may clap due to reasons related to their physical and cognitive development milestones. The following are some of the likely reasons why babies clap hands.

1. Development of motor skills

The first year of a baby’s life involves several growth and development milestones that include skills related to hand movement (2). Picking and holding objects, passing objects from one hand to another, and waving and pointing with hands are some of the key achievements during this phase (3). Clapping hands is part of the natural progression of a baby’s gross and fine motor skills.

2. Perception of achievement

We often clap our hands to encourage the baby when they do certain activities. Babies are keen observers and can understand cause and effect through repeated observation. The little one may eventually figure out that clapping hands is a form of reward or signal of achievement. Therefore, babies may clap hands for themselves when they feel they have achieved something or feel excited after doing something.

3. Means of communication

Clapping is a baby’s way of communication. Initially, they clap hands to imitate their caregivers, but as they grow older, they understand that clapping can be used to express their feelings and to convey their messages. Babies may clap hands in front of parents or caregivers to gain attention, express their joy, or even answer questions.

4. Attempt of experimentation

Babies discover the world and even parts of their bodies through experimentation. A baby may perform an action to see the reaction it elicits from parents/caretakers or the sensation it induces. Clapping hands could be a baby’s way of figuring out what happens if both the hands meet. Some babies may get fascinated with the sensation of the hands touching each other.

Activities To Encourage Your Babies To Clap Hands

Your babies tend to copy you, so they will try to do the activities you repeat in front of them. You may try the following activities to encourage your baby to clap.

1. Playing games

Playing is always fun and more exciting when there is a combination of songs with activities. This will develop the verbal skills, fine motor skills, and cognitive skills of your baby.

You can play the following games.

  • Pat-A-Cake, Pat-A-Cake, Baker’s Man
  • Little Piggy
  • A Sailor Went To Sea
  • Down Down Baby
  • Miss Susie
  • Pretty Little Dutch Girl
  • Pease Porridge Hot
  • If You’re Happy And You Know It
  • Hokey Pokey
  • Miss Mary Mack

2. Clapping combined with rhymes

Take your baby’s hands in your hands and gently show them the motion of clapping. Do it slowly. Laugh and appreciate them when the hands join to clap.

Play any nursery rhyme or any song you like to set the demonstration in rhythm for your baby. Repetition of this activity will help the baby understand the gesture better.

3. Clapping with different speeds

Babies like unexpected events and varieties. Providing variation in clapping speeds will help to get their attention and develop their interest.

4. Giving high fives

It will teach your baby that slapping palms together has a meaning. Babies enjoy when you “high five” with them frequently.

5. Applauding

Clap for your baby for their little achievements, like when they get building blocks in shape, join the puzzle parts correctly, or pick the right things when told. You can also clap for your baby when they finish their meals or feedings.

What If The Baby Isn’t Clapping?

A baby may achieve developmental milestones at a slightly different age than his/her peers. Also, there could be variations in abilities across babies of the same age. Therefore, do not panic if your baby does not clap. They might gradually pick up clapping by 12 months of age.

If your one-year-old does not imitate clapping or other gestures, does not point to things, or seems to lose skills gradually, then speak to a pediatrician. The doctor will assess various developmental milestones of the baby to determine any delays.

Milestones To Expect After The Baby Learns To Clap

After your baby masters the art of clapping, there are several milestones that follow by the age of 18 months (4).

  • Standing up without support
  • Start taking their first steps
  • Say their first words, such as “Mama” and “Dada”
  • Follow your simple directions, like “find the ball” or “point your nose”
  • Shake their heads to answer your questions in “yes” or “no”

Though many babies start clapping at nine months, some parents might wonder when do babies clap. Many parents consider it a milestone when their baby begins to clap since it may signal physical and cognitive development. Clapping also signifies the development of the baby’s gross and fine motor skills. You could encourage your little one by introducing them to clapping games or by clapping to nursery rhymes. However, consult your pediatrician if your baby does not clap, point to objects, or show any gestures at one year.

Key Pointers

  • Babies usually learn to clap when they are nine months old.
  • A baby’s attempt to clap indicates developing motor and communication skills.
  • Activities such as clapping at various speeds or clapping with music could encourage the development of this milestone.
  • Don’t panic if your infant cannot clap yet; each baby develops at their own pace.
  • Consult a pediatrician if a baby of more than one year doesn’t attempt to clap or doesn’t point at things.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Nine Months; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2. Fine motor skills: birth to 2 years; Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
3. Milestone Moments; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4. Important Milestones: Your Child By Eighteen Months; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo did MBA from Osmania University and holds a certificate in Developmental Psychology from The University of Queensland. The zoologist-botanist turned writer-editor has over 8 years of experience in content writing, content marketing, and copywriting. He has also done an MBA in marketing and human resources and worked in the domains of market research and e-commerce. Rohit writes topics... more

Katherine Paxton

(Applied Psychology Program)
Katherine Paxton is an internationally-known award winning author of the book “Counselling people on the autism spectrum; A practical manual”. She graduated from a tri-university Applied Psychology Program of Campus Alberta (University of Alberta, Athabaska University, and University of Lethbridge). Katherine has supported people with diverse abilities for over a quarter of a century, including 15 years as a counselor... more