Baby Sign Language – How to Get Started

Your Baby Can Talk: All You Have to do is Listen!

Baby Sign Language is becoming more and more popular for many good reasons and chances are you or someone you know has a young child or is expecting one soon. You can be the person to point a new parent in the direction of Baby Sign Language. A baby’s vocal skills will not develop for at least 12 months; however, a baby’s motor skills will be developed enough to create simple signs in six months and begin to understand them in a matter of weeks. If there is a new arrival in your life, you could miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Who is baby sign language for?

This is for everybody, including you and your lucky little one! If you, a family member, or a friend has had a visit from Mr. Stork, great things are in store for you! Are you a babysitter, nanny, or daycare provider? Then you have a perfect opportunity to put this skill to use! A child does not need to have hearing loss to learn sign language. Now, you have a reason to teach them!

Why should I sign with my baby?

There is a long list of many benefits of teaching your child sign language. The most obvious is the ability to communicate with your child, while their peers can only cry. Think of the emotional benefits your child will receive when they can actually tell you why they are crying! Or the satisfaction and pride of not having to cry in the first place! Recently, researchers have found that teaching a baby sign language can improve their ability to learn the language and help them develop better cognitive abilities. Imagine how nice it would be to get a response to the question, “What would you like to drink?” When talking to your six-month-old baby.

Furthermore, picture asking your eight months old, “Do you want milk, water, or juice to drink?” They can even tell you which color sippy cup they want it in!

When should I start signing with my baby? NOW!

This is an ability that can be done all the time without a lot of strain on the brain. If your child is a newborn or moving into their first years, this is always a good time to start learning! Need some help getting started with a few signs? Most babies, when starting to learn signs, can retain and utilize three to twelve different signs in a brief time period.

Beginning Basic Baby Sign Glossary Five Signs to Start Teaching Your Baby

Milk: This is an essential sign for any baby to know and understand. This sign is easy to remember because it mimics the milking of a cow. With your dominant hand, extended the palm facing in and slowly open and close your hand in a fist. And voila! You have the sign for milk!

True Story:

There was an interpreter working with a woman a few years ago who just had her fifth baby. The interpreter suggested she start using the sign for “milk” at feeding times. To implement this sign, she would hold up the bottle with one hand, sign “milk” with the other, and say “milk” all at the same time. After doing this for two weeks, she took away the bottle and signed “milk” without actually saying the word. To her delight, her four-week-old baby actually smiled and started wiggling about in excitement! Her baby already learned a sign!

The ASL Sign for the word Mother

Here is another important sign for your baby to know. This can be easily demonstrated by pointing to yourself (if you are Mom, of course), saying “Mother,” and signing it at the same time. To sign “mother”, splay your hand out and tap your chin with your thumb.

The ASL Sign for Father

The sign for “father” is very similar to the sign for “mother”; it is, in fact, exactly the same except you tap your forehead with your thumb, not your chin. If you really want to be sharp, when talking about daddy or mommy, go ahead and point to each parent while making the sign. Also, using the signs consecutively one after the other (signing “Mother” and “Father” immediately in a combination) is the sign for “parents”.

Baby Signing for Eat or Food

To make this sign, press the pads of all your finger tips against the pad of your thumb and tap your mouth with the tips of your fingers. It’s easy to learn and remember because it looks like you’re putting food in your mouth! One of the (many) cool things about sign language is that one sign can make an entire English sentence! Just signing “eat” while saying/vocalizing, “Want to eat?” Sometimes in this world of hustle and bustle, the shorter is the sweeter.

The Sign for More

Remember how you held your hand for the sign “eat/food?” Well, using both hands, face all fingertips toward each other, and tap your fingertips together. Now you will know when your baby is still hungry! Just imagine your amazement and excitement when your child looks at you before feeding time and signs “milk”; or one day during a diaper changing, she will look up at you or Daddy and sign “dry” or “thank you”!

How should I start baby sign language?

The internet is a wonderful resource. Try these links first to pick up a few basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Do check out ASL Pro online. This is a really cool site because you can actually watch the signs instead of trying to take written directions or attempting to create a 3D sign from a 2D picture.

Baby Signing classes in your area. Simply do a search on Google with your city in the search terms, and they should pop right up!

Want to Get Started Learning Infant or Toddler Sign Language? Just remember the Who, Why, When, and How of Baby Sign Language. Spread the word! Tell your friends and family about the benefits. And remember — the key is patience and plenty of praise.

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