Why does my baby seem to adopt new actions and forget others?

Q: We just taught our 11-month-old baby how to clap his hands, but now he won't wave bye-bye, which he learned about a month ago. Did he forget?

A: I wish I could tell you exactly why this happened, but understanding a child's behavior is not an exact science. My best guess is that he hasn't forgotten how to wave bye-bye, but that he's just more interested in doing other things right now. He has mastered that skill and moved on to the next challenge. You taught him something new -- clapping -- that he's really enjoying, and novelty almost always wins out over old tricks. In fact, it's my observation that the more you try to get children to perform, the less likely it is that they will. What you'll probably find is that a few days or weeks from now, when you least expect it, he'll start waving bye-bye again, especially if you keep waving good-bye when you really are leaving. The best way to support your son's development right now is to follow his lead.

Copright 2003 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.