This paper examines the acquisition of demonstratives (e.g., that, there) from a cross-linguistic perspective. Although demonstratives are often said to play a crucial role in L1 acquisition, there is little systematic research on this topic. Using extensive corpus data of spontaneous child speech, the paper investigates the emergence and development of demonstratives in three European (English, French, Spanish) and four non-European languages (Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Indonesian) between age 1;0 and 6;0. The data show that, across languages, demonstratives are among the earliest and most frequent child words, but their frequency decreases with age and MLU. As children grow older, they tend to use other types of referring terms (e.g., anaphoric pronouns) and other types of spatial expressions (e.g., adpositions). Considering these results, we hypothesize that children shift from using a body-oriented strategy of deictic communication to more abstract and disembodied strategies of encoding reference and space during the preschool years.