- Family and Parenting
Teach My Baby Sign Language!
Baby Sign Language Lets Your Baby "Speak" to You Before He/She Can Talk
Should I Teach My Baby Sign Language? What Are The Benefits? When Should I Start?
These are all great questions!
This lens is designed to answer some of those questions and to give you some basic signs so you can decide whether Baby Signs are right for you and your family.
Signing can be very easily integrated into your daily routine - it is not difficult to do. The main thing is committing yourself to the idea of signing, and doing it consistently as you talk to your baby.
CC photo credit: traveling.lunas
Should I Teach My Baby Sign Language?
The decision was pretty easy for our family because our son was a VERY frustrated baby. We felt like we were constantly jumping through hoops. This was a pretty common conversation in our house:
You: "Is this what you want?"
Baby: more screaming, head shaking if you're lucky.
You: "No? Okay, okay, you're okay. How about this?"
Baby: Face turning red, begins an all-out meltdown.
You: "No?? Okay, okay, you're just fine. How about THIS?!"
By teaching your baby some simple signs, you are giving him or her the tools to use to communicate with you before they are ready to do so verbally.
The Benefits of Signing
Studies show that babies who learn to sign:
1. are less frustrated.
2. have larger vocabularies when they do begin to speak verbally.
3. speak sooner than their non-signing counterparts.
PLUS, if you're out somewhere where there is a TON of background noise, you can use your signs to communicate with each other. Heck, my husband and I still occasionally sign to each other when the baby is sleeping on us and we're trying to communicate from opposite ends of the house. =)
Watch a mom and her baby signing
When Should I Begin To To Teach My Baby Sign Language?
"Signs" of Readiness
Can your baby wave "hello" to you? This is a pretty good indication that he or she is ready to sign back to you.
HOWEVER, there is nothing to stop you from doing some basic signs from the time that your baby is born. Of course at that point it will be more for your benefit than theirs, by getting you into the habit of signing.
This is especially helpful in getting older children, family members and care providers on board with the signs. Consistency is key when doing baby signs, and you'll want the people who have contact with your baby to know how to communicate with your baby.
Okay, So Where Do I Begin?
Ah, here's the fun part!
Pick a few signs that you want to start out with - preferably the more relevant ones to your baby. For example:
1. nurse (or bottle)
4. All Done
When you ask your baby if he or she wants to nurse, you would ask the question and do the sign simultaneously. In the case of nursing, you would tug on the front of your shirt and say "nurse".
You will probably find that your precious little one will have their own variations of the signs. This is PERFECTLY okay - as long as you and your baby come to an understanding on a particular sign, GO WITH IT!
My son had his own take on the "nurse" sign. While I would tug on my shirt, he would tap that same spot (on me or whoever was holding him) with his finger....it was really quite cute! At any rate, he knew what I was conveying when I tugged on my shirt, and I knew what he was saying when he signed it his own way. Of course Dad, Grandma and Grandpa can all use the sign on their own shirts whether or not they are equipped for nursing - the meaning is the same for Baby. =)
Ready for some signs?
A big thank you to my four-year-old for demonstrating these signs!
As I mentioned earlier, the sign for "Nurse" is to grab the front of your shirt with your thumb and forefinger and tug,
To sign "drink", make a fist with your thumb sticking out and bring it to your lips.
To sign "more", touch fingers to thumbs on both hands, and tap hands together so that the tips of your fingers touch.
This sign comes in handy at meal time!
To sign "eat", touch fingers to thumb and bring fingertips to your lips.
Does It Work?
At 13 months, my daughter can sign:
- All Done
- up (as in "pick me up")
You May Recognize.....
Baby signs seem to have gotten a lot more publicity since Rachel Coleman from Signing Times started doing her videos on Nick Jr.
Other Ways to Teach Yourself Baby Signs
Baby Sign Board Books
Have you tried signing with your baby? Do you have any questions, or any helpful tips? Let us know here!