The baby above is my son. I started baby sign language with him a bit when he was around 8-month-old. The not-so-pretty sign above was not on our agenda, though. 🙂
Jokes aside, teaching signing to a baby, even if it is just a sign or two is really cool! Imagine an 8-month-old baby being able to use baby sign language to say that he is hungry instead of whining…
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Baby sign language is a relatively new trend, and growing rapidly. Studies have shown that children that have learned to sign have a higher IQ, that they actually start talking earlier and with a better vocabulary and that they are less frustrated. Good reasons to try it out!
Well, I think there is another even stronger reason: Why not just try it out to have fun together with your baby and maybe to be able to understand him or her better and faster?
One mom also told me about another advantage: Her child, now old enough to play outside in the garden, can use signs instead of shouting to his mom when she talks to him through the window.
How To Get Going With Baby Sign Language
When to start
When to start signing with your baby is very much up to you. You can start early, and maybe get your baby to start doing signs already at 7 or 8-month-old.
Or you start later when your baby is trying harder to communicate by use of words, faces and hands. This way you’ll probably notice a result faster. Also, some babies are busier trying to get moving than trying to communicateb. And the other way around.
But I need to learn too…
Baby signing is not difficult! But it can be hard to actually get going, especially for someone has never used sign language before (like most of us). “I’ll start tomorrow…”
Attending a baby signing class is a perfect way to learn how to do it and to actually get around to start. And it’s fun! But if you can’t find a course that works for you, you at least need to check some instructive videos or buy a book.
There are two different “schools” regarding baby sign language at present, represented by the authors Linda Acredolo and Joseph Garcia. The have both written very popular books, Baby Signs (Linda Acredolo et al) and Sign With Your Baby (Joseph Garcia). The difference between those is that only Garcia actually uses proper American Sign Language, so if that is important for you, go for his book.
However, if you’re not American and you’ll have to buy an additional book with your country’s sign language, then either of the books may be a good help.
Here you’ll find Garcia’s DVD and book kits on baby sign language.
Did you know that sign language is not universal? That is such a shame! But that’s how it is.
I suggest you use signs from the sign language in your country. That way both you and your child actually learn a new language that is useful where you live.
Also, if your baby will go to a day care center at some point, chances are higher that the teachers will be able to interpret your baby’s signs if they are the “real thing”.
Don’t be too ambitious. Pick only one or a few signs to start with. Signs for food, drink, sleep and pacifier mayby if your child uses one.
Since you need to do the sign more or less every time you refer to the word you want to teach, you will not be comfortable having to sign in each and every sentence. At least not in the beginning before you get used to signing.
Don’t give up
Just as babies understand words long before they show it, the same goes with signing.
Depending on your baby’s age and interest, he or she might start using the signs after only a few days or after several weeks. If it takes time, don’t be discouraged.
Get your family involved
Ask your spouse and your baby’s older siblings to help out. This way your infant will see the signs more often and everybody in the family will be able to understand the baby’s signs when he starts doing them.
And it’s fun! Siblings can be really thrilled when the baby suddenly starts communicating! Not to mention what a party trick it is! 🙂
Repetition. For you, NOT the baby. Learning to sign should be effortless for your baby. It is about you (and everyone else around the baby if possible) to do the specific sign every time that word comes up. And if (when) your baby starts doing the sign, you can certainly reinforce that by big smile and also see if you can encourage doing more of the sign by making it a game – baby signs pacifier, gets pacifier, mom signs pacifier and gets it. And repeat. But only if baby wants to!
Web resources & video gallery
In addition to learning material you buy, you should of course also check out the free resources around the web if you want to learn more. Youtube has a lot of material these days.
in addition, you are likely to be able to find pictures of specific signs in your country, as well as forums to discuss baby signing, classes to attend, books and more.
To get started, have look at the video gallery for baby sign language here below. Good luck!![dzs_videogallery id=”sign language” db=”main”]