Baby Sign Language

Baby Sign Language

Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language is when a baby uses their hands and body gestures to communicate. It helps babies learn early communication skills. Baby sign language does not help your infant communicate before they speak, but it also helps in the language, social, emotional, and cognitive development of your baby. Communicating using baby sign language also helps you strengthen your bond with your baby.

Why teach baby sign language?

Baby sign language is easy to teach. It helps with:

  • Language development
  • Vocabulary development
  • Emotional development
  • Social development
  • Cognitive development
  • More communication, lesser tantrums

Are you ready to give it a try? Here’s when and how to teach baby sign language.

When to teach baby sign language?

It is never too early to introduce signs to your baby. Babies start comprehending words long before they can verbally use them. Some research suggests that babies start using signs at as little as 8-10 months old. They are especially ready to use signs when they show a communication intent. An example would be holding his arms out up indicating that he wants to be picked.

How to teach a baby sign language?

As discussed earlier, learning baby sign language is quite easy. You do not need to have specific activities to teach this. The most important part of teaching baby sign language is to be patient and consistent in teaching.

To teach a sign, simply sign it yourself. Make the signs whenever you say the word as part of your baby’s daily routines. So for example, when it is feeding time and your baby has to drink their milk, you could simply use the sign for milk. Every time you say the word ‘milk’, sign it.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start off with a few signs

Start off with basic signs and keep adding new ones as your baby progresses. Firstly, you can start off by using mealtimes as a great way to start using signs. We choose mealtimes as babies drink/eat very frequently. Here is a list of some easy starter baby signs:

  • Milk
  • More
  • Sleep
  • Drink
  • Eat
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Bye-Bye

At this point in time, it is very important to remember that your baby might not start signing right away. Just like with learning a new language, inf sign language learning will also require some time. It may take a few weeks or even months to start seeing your baby’s sign. Once your baby starts signing a specific sign, you will have to respond to your baby by giving them the signed object. We use this as reinforcement to motivate the baby to keep using signs.

2. Sign & Speak

Remember to always say the signed word verbally along with the sign. In short, you are teaching your baby to use the signs and assign verbal meaning to them. Try to use the sign ‘EVERY’ time you say the word. Consistency is important to learn better.

3. Repetition is key too

Make sure that you repeat the signs and words together very frequently. For example, if it is time to drink milk, you can say and sign, “Oh, Baby is going to drink milk (sign) now”, “Do you like to drink milk (sign)?”, “Baby loves to drink milk (sign)”.

4. Use signs throughout the day

Try to use the signs in different situations. Adding to the above example, you can sign ‘milk’ during mealtimes, when reading a book, when looking at pictures, when someone else is drinking milk, etc. Make the best of these opportunities to teach your baby the signs.

Subsequently, as your baby starts signing more consistently, you can keep adding new words for them to sign. As a result, this will increase your baby’s repertoire. Moreover, as your baby grows older, you will notice that they develop specific interests. And they enjoy doing activities about things they’re interested in. Use these as opportunities to teach them signs.

Long-term benefits of using signs

Baby Sign Language was invented in the early 1980s by Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, and Susan Goodwyn, Ph.D., a professor of child development at California State University at Stanislaus. The professors found that babies who signed up developed verbal language skills at a rate faster than average. Some other findings revealed that babies who sign develop higher IQs. Babies were also found to become less prone to tantrums as they were able to communicate using baby signs whenever needed.

If you have any questions regarding baby sign language please reach out to us!

Vaz Larisa
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