Teaching Baby Sign Language

image001 Teaching baby sign language has become increasingly popular in recent years. This gives parents the opportunity to better understand what their baby needs even before they are capable of talking. Parents believe that it will cut down on frustration both for themselves and their children if babies could express their needs more clearly. In order to facilitate baby communication, parents may want to know when they can teach baby sign language, benefits of baby sign language and how they can teach it to their baby. This page will give you answers.

When Can You Start Teaching Baby Sign Language?

Babies will often start to make word associations around 6-7 months of age. They can learn that making noise will cause you to come to their aid. They can also learn that signing can be used as a way to communicate during this time. Before this can happen your child must have developed cognitive skills that allow them to associate a sign with what it is designed to represent and have enough memory to remember the signs they have been taught. They must also have the motor skills to produce the signs. All babies are different. While many will have these abilities around 7 months of age, some will be able to start much earlier and some may need to wait a few more months.

To determine if it's time for teaching baby sign language, see if your child watches you intently when you speak and if they seem curious about the world around them. Notice if they look to see where objects go when they drop them or examine objects trying to learn more about them. See if your child can imitate you and is capable of performing gestures on their own. Babies will often hold their arms up when they want to be held or wave goodbye when prompted at this stage. If your child is showing many of these skills see if their hands are agile enough to perform signs. If you believe they are at the right level of development, try starting a few lessons.

Benefits of Teaching Baby Sign Language

Benefits

Descriptions

The ability to communicate earlier

Babies can often understand more than they can share. Providing your child with extra ways of communicating will make it easier for them to start articulating what they want earlier than they might normally.

Decrease tantrum behavior

Tantrums often stem from a child failing to have their needs met, though this is often because the adult does not understand what they desire. If your child has a way of communicating, these tantrums can be limited.

Increase children’s language skills

When you teach a child a sign you will often say its name out loud more frequently. This will help your child both to learn the sign and the word for different objects so their vocabulary can expand.

Increase reading and spelling skills and even IQ

Some research indicates that children who have learned to sign start to read and spell earlier and have higher IQ scores later.

Bonding experience

Teaching your child sign language will provide you with an intimate time to bond and interact with your child.

Promote fine motor skills

To understand sign language, your child must use joint attention and visual skills which will help them to develop these areas.

Communicate with those who are deaf

Signing is a skill that your child will be able to carry throughout their life which will allow them to communicate with those that are deaf or otherwise have limited communication later.

Fun

Incorporating signs into your child’s daily routine can be fun, giving you a new game to play with your child.

How Can You Teach Baby Sign Language?

1. Set Realistic Expectations

You can start trying to teach your child sign language at any age. However, it is important to realize that most babies will not be able to communicate with this method until they are around 8 months old.

2. Start Slow

Start by making a list of words and signs you would like to start with. It is best to start with the basics such as “eat” or “drink” and continue using them until your baby picks up on the concept. When they master the set you have given, you can slowly start adding on more words.

3. Keep Signs Simple

Start by using signs that describe routine objects, activities or requests that they are used to. Signs that reflect the interests of your child such as mother, father or eat will be easier for them to pick up.

4. Make It Interactive

Try holding your baby on your stomach or in your lap, embracing their hands to make the signs. You can also carry your baby, making the signs on their body. Alternate whether or not you talk when you make the sign. Work to give the signs you are using contexts such as signing about diapers when you are changing your baby. When your baby uses signs to communicate with you, work to encourage them.

5. Stay Patient

Try not to get discouraged if your child is not using signs correctly or fails to pick up on the concept. The goal of this project is to reduce frustration, and not to be perfect. Just avoid responding to signs that are not correct, as this can give your child the wrong idea.

6. Be Consistent

Whenever you talk to your baby, work to use sign language as well. This will help them to pick up on sign language more easily because they will have a consistent understanding of how it is used. Consider teaching your spouse or others that care for your child how to sign so they can help you with your efforts. You should also keep talking to your child to encourage speech development as well while you work with sign language.

7. Learn at Babies’ Own Paces

If you have a friend that is also teaching sign language to their child, do not expect your child to learn at the same pace or learn words in the same order. This can put undue pressure on your child.

Please see this video and learn more about how you can teach baby sign language:

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