Trying to decipher a baby’s first words can be tricky. For instance, they might be saying ‘dog’ when you think they are saying ‘dad’. No need to panic if you’re that doting dad. You can rest assured that they will use the ‘dad’ word more over the course of time.
The introduction of sign language for babies, then, becomes something of a boon in helping parents understand what their infants are trying to tell them. A mere few hand gestures are all it takes to help babies express freely what’s on their minds.
What is baby sign language?
In a nutshell, baby sign language is the use of hand and body gestures to help babies communicate before they learn to speak. Sign language basics entail the use of simple signs to help babies convey their emotions and needs. For instance, signing might help a baby express to you that they are hungry, or if they want more of something.
When should you start signing with your baby?
Teaching sign language for babies can be done soon after your children are born. However, one must note that they might not be able to sign back until they are more than 6 months old. You have to bear in mind that all children are different, and if other babies are starting to use sign language before yours, there’s certainly no need for alarm.
The Benefits of Sign Language for Babies
Baby sign language basics can certainly go a long way in aiding the development of infants in those crucial early years. Here’s a look at the reasons you should teach them to communicate with signs.
While you can’t stop those tantrums altogether, you can certainly alleviate them or even prevent them altogether in many instances. The thing is, when children don’t get what they want, they get frustrated. Using sign language helps them clearly express what they want, thereby preventing that meltdown.
Forging a Closer Bond
Teaching infants sign language helps you foster a close bond with them. When you and your baby can understand each other, it increases that feeling of ‘closeness’.
When you expose your little one early to the wonders of sign language, it helps them develop their reasoning skills.
Enhanced Confidence and Self-Esteem
Children feel better when they are able to effectively communicate with people around them, leading to an enhanced sense of confidence and self-esteem.
Baby Speech Development
Signing can lead to a greater vocabulary growth and enhanced language skills, thus making it crucial in assisting baby speech development.
The Top 10 Signs to Teach your Baby
When teaching sign language for infants, it’s important to start with signs that work best for you and your baby. Signs that are most natural, like any simple gesture that fits a word or perhaps even a phrase, like a glove! Here is the absolute best list of signs that you can start with, to help your baby communicate better.
Sign: Rubbing the belly does the trick.
Sign: Making a C shape with the hand, as though holding a cup, and then moving it to your mouth as though you were drinking from it.
Sign: Squeezing fingers in and out.
Sign: Extending three middle fingers so they are pointing up, with the thumb and pinkie tucked down, and then tapping the index finger to the chin.
Sign: Creating two ‘O’ shapes by pinching the thumbs and fingers on both hands, and then tapping your fingertips together a few times.
Sign: Start with your hands up and palms facing towards you. Then, turn your hands until your palms face out.
Sign: Arms Up.
Sign: Palms facing down, index finger pointing to the ground, before lowering hand.
Sign: Tapping thumb to chin, with open palm and fingers facing up.
Sign: Tapping thumb to forehead, with open palm and fingers facing up
Tips to Teach your Baby Sign Language
Here’s a look at some invaluable tips that will help facilitate the process of teaching sign language to your little one.
- Articulate Well. Begin with words for objects. Say the words as slowly and clearly as you can, to allow the baby to comprehend them fully.
- Keep Practicing. ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is something we all know well. The more we expose them to signs, the faster they will be able to pick up sign language basics.
- Don’t sign off so quickly. It’s important to note that children learn through repetition, so ensure that you don’t give up on the first try, when teaching them a particular sign. For instance, when asking them if they are hungry, repeat the ‘hungry’ sign at least twice if at first they don’t show a response to it.
- Find different opportunities to teach them signs. You don’t have to make that ‘dog’ sign only when your beloved pet is near your baby. You could do it even when a baby sees a dog in their favourite cartoon show, or perhaps in a book that you might be reading out to them.
- Give it Time. The last thing you want to do is get frustrated or discouraged if your baby is not learning sign language as quickly as you had expected. The thing is, as with all new skills, learning sign language is something that takes time.
- Give them encouragement. Make sure you give the baby plenty of encouragement by kissing and hugging them whenever they first sign a word.
- Let others know. Your baby is going to be around friends and family members on several occasions, and it’s important that they, too, know the signs you’re teaching the baby so they can understand them when they try to communicate.
At EuroKids we do everything in our capacity to take your child’s learning and development skills to the next level. To that effect, we strongly recommend you teach sign language to your toddler, to sharpen those vital communication skills early on.