Guest Blog by Misty Weaver
Baby sign language is a cool new way to communicate with your pre-verbal child. Baby signing can help is great fun for the whole family, and is easy to teach and learn. Research has shown that babies who learn baby sign language often learn to speak earlier and have fewer tantrums. It has to be worth giving it a go! When you’re starting out with baby sign language, it’s best to begin with signs you and your baby can practice daily. Here are the four main steps involved when Teaching Baby Sign Language.
Step 1: Learn Some Basic Signs Yourself
Popular starter signs include Mommy, Daddy and Milk. Although the signs themselves are easy to master it’s a good idea to practice them yourself a few times before signing to your baby. Either attend a baby signing class or look up some free online resources to help you learn your first signs. Limit yourself to only four or five to begin with – you can add more signs when you and baby are more confident.
Once you have learned a sign, make this sign every time you say that word to your baby. Say the word clearly, with good eye contact, while signing and pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Sign when your baby is alert, using something which is really exciting to her.
Step 2: Sign With Your Baby Every Day – Yes, Every Day!
Repetition is the key to Sign Language For Babies. Make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. This may feel strange at first but with practice it will become second-nature. Babies learn through repetition. It can take about two months of exposure for babies over six months to learn a sign and be ready to use it themselves. Try signing when you’re shopping, playing and feeding – whenever you get the chance. Be creative.
Step 3: Be Patient With Your Baby (And Yourself)
When you begin to sign with your baby don’t expect too much too soon. Have fun and enjoy the process. Make teaching Sign Language For Babies a part of your day but don’t be too results-focused. Be patient with yourself too – if you forget to sign for a day that’s OK. Just start again the next day. Remember, it can take at least two months of exposure to, and repetition of, a sign for a baby to learn it properly. Give yourself and your baby plenty of time.
Step 4: Cheer Your Baby On!
When your baby starts to sign encourage her efforts enthusiastically. Don’t worry too much if she hasn’t got the sign quite ‘right’ – the important thing is she’s starting to communicate with you by signing and that’s a big step. Give lots of praise. Giving attention and eye-contact are great ways to show her you are really impressed with her efforts. When you and your baby are ready you can move on to another group of signs. Keep up the good work!
About Misty Weaver
Misty Weaver knows that baby sign language works because she has taught it to her own toddler. And she will get to do it all over again soon, as she is now pregnant with twins! Misty is the editor-in-chief at Sign Language For Babies, the leading online resource for all things Baby Sign Language: instructional videos, sign language dictionary, free flash cards, and much more!