As long as we can remember, getting a baby to wave bye-bye has instinctively been the first trick we teach our babies. The proper response usually happens between 10 months and a year – though it takes premature babies longer according to a study in Pediatrics International.
The study claims that babies are born with the ability to imitate and the motor skills in the brain used for this can be measured by the type of hand motions used are an indicator of a premature babies’ developmental state.
The Japanese study compared the wave in 597 full-term infants to 95 prematures. The infants hand motions were analyzed with video recordings of researchers saying goodbye to infants verbally and with hand gestures. Mothers reported the exact age at which their infants began waving bye-bye.
Full-term infants began imitating the bye-bye wave a month earlier than premature babies (their ages corrected – or their age if they had been born full-term) on average. All full-term babies were waving by 12 months, compared to only 57% of premature babies. Though all preterm infants could imitate the gesture by the corrected 17 months.
There are varying degrees of difficulty in hand movements and the research suggests that the fine motor skills and coordination in preemies is a little slower to develop.
— Summarized from the Health & Wellness Research Report by the Wall Street Journal 12-4-13.