Although there is consensus about the importance of early communicative gestures such as pointing, there is an ongoing debate regarding how infants develop the ability to understand and produce pointing gestures. We review competing theories regarding this development and use observations from a diary study of infants’ social development, focusing primarily on one infant from 6 to 14 months to illustrate a currently neglected view of the development of pointing. According to this view, infants first use their extended index finger as a manifestation of their own attention that emerges from their tactile exploration of close-by objects. Their gesture gradually becomes social in its use as infants become aware of the meaning of their action for adults.

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