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Sign Language - Begin BabySign

Ever wonder what your baby is thinking or what interests her? Want to ask her what she likes to eat? You can communicate with your baby sooner than you think!

Using sign language, you can take advantage of your baby's natural abilities to communicate sooner and reduce the stress for the whole family! The level of frustration that children feel diminishes significantly when a child can tell you what she wants. Tantrums are often caused by a toddler's inability to communicate needs or wants. Using sign language, you can communicate with your baby as early as 6 months and reduce the number of tantrums you encounter. And fewer tantrums mean a better relationship!

Signing with your baby is easy and natural. Start between 6 and 9 months when your baby is starts interacting. If your baby is older, start now. It is never too early or too late to start. If you start earlier, you just might need to wait longer for results. If you start later, it helps with the frustration that occurs from 16-30 months due to inability to communicate. Even after babies can communicate, signing helps to bond the family.

  1. Start with 3-5 signs for things you do freqently. The most common signs to start with are MILK, MORE, and EAT. If you know more signs, you can sign more. But, if you are learning along with your child, 3-5 signs is a manageable number to start with.
  2. Use the signs every time you are in the right situation. For example, when you nurse or give your baby a bottle, say "Do you want some milk?" and sign MILK.
  3. As your child learns the signs and begins to sign back, start adding other signs like APPLE and BANANA. Continue to use the signs you already use as you add new ones.
  4. Be patient. It takes babies time to learn to sign, but they can recognize the signs long before they can make them. For example, babies will often show their anticipation when you sign MILK by grunting or panting.
  5. Consider taking a class to learn the keys to successful signing and how to sign while reading and singing. Or check out a book or web site for more information.

No matter what you do, make it fun! Enjoy the deep sense of connection you feel when you begin to have two-way conversations. Here is a list of the benefits of signing with your hearing baby:

  • Signing allows your infant to clearly communicate specific thoughts.
  • Signing reduces frustration for your baby - and for you!
  • Signing gives you a window into your child's mind and personality.
  • Signing won't delay verbal language development - in fact, it may accelerate it. Research shows that babies who sign usually start to talk sooner and develop larger vocabularies than non-signing babies.
  • Signing reinforces verbal language by adding visual and kinesthetic emphasis to auditory input.
  • Signing children tend to be more interested in books.
  • Signing builds on babies' natural tendency to use gestures.

List of Resources for Parents

Sign Babies offers the following resources:
  • Class information and lists of research. Additional classes can be found on Sign2Me.com.
  • Flash Cards that introduce ASL signs for the words that babies and small children need most. The cards have eye-catching illustrations that help children who cannot read to recognize common objects, actions, and emotions.
  • SIGN with your BABY book and video teach parents the easiest way to start signing with their baby. Check in bookstores, or at Sign2Me.com
  • Signing Time videos teach children to actively use signs. These videos are captivating and show other children signing.

About Deafness/HOH has another article on Baby Signing.

About the author:
Nancy Cadjan is the founder of Sign Babies. She has spent the last 10 years researching and using sign language with infants and toddlers.

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