AvatarHeather C Heather C is a married, mom of three: big sis Lily and identical twins Natalie and Sophia. She has been guest blogging for Mumbling Mommy since February of 2012 and began working as a Social Media Editor in 2014. After nearly a decade in banking, she now works part time at a doctor's office specializing in breastfeeding medicine and spends the rest of her days in her Midwest home as zookeeper/stay-at-home-mom. Heather C is also a runner, hiker, yogi, bike rider and more. She reads when she finds more than a few minutes to herself and she hosts a lot of pajama dance parties in her kitchen. In her spare time, she's the co-leader for her daughter's Girl Scout troop and an active member of the school's Parent-Teacher Committee as well as a certified postpartum doula.

Baby sign language can help your little one communicate earlier and more effectively.

My oldest is very vocal. She spoke in three to four sentences by her second birthday. She is not shy and she loves to talk. She babbled early. She said her first words early. She’s like some crazy communication freak show among her peers. We did a very minimal amount of sign language with her. I had read about it during my pregnancy and I had some children’s board books on the subject, so I was pretty excited about it. But she couldn’t care less. She learned three basic signs and was done with it. Her speech and understanding took off so quickly that she wasn’t interested. Had I pushed harder, she likely would be fluent in American Sign Language at this point. Heck, she loves learning it now!

Anyway, fast forward two years and along come my youngest two. They were born in the 31st week of my pregnancy at just 4 pounds each. They had a month-long NICU stay and we’ve been adjusting their age to mark off their milestones ever since. They are totally different than their big sister. They speak well and are on track for their adjusted age, but we pushed much more for a way to communicate with them.

Not yet two years old, they have a lot of words but not nearly enough to always convey what they need or want. Baby sign language has helped with that tremendously. At the recommendation of a good blogger friend, I started renting Baby Signing Time and Signing Time DVDs from my local library. And, well, they are AMAZING!

I highly recommend having reinforcements to help in teaching your child signs, but it is not required. There are so many books, apps, games and movies that you can use if interested, but really, all you have to do is make it fun and practice. We started teaching sign language around the 6-month mark, but you could easily start sooner. Even if your child is already over a year old, you can still start. It’s never too late or too early.

Baby Sign Language Tips:

Start slowly. Incorporate five easy words and motions into your child’s everyday routine. At first, just have her watch. Speak the word and make the sign at the same time. Do this repetitively.

Create flashcards or reminders for yourself. Post these in places where you need them. (i.e. if you are teaching your child to sign “diaper” post your reminder above your changing table.)

Once your child is physically able to start making purposeful movements, guide her hands to do the sign. Do the signs with her. Remember, speak the word, do the sign yourself, help her do the sign, show the sign again. Speak the word each time.

Applaud every effort. Your child is not going to immediately get every sign right on the first try. Fingers might be bent when they need to be straight, etc. Applaud every effort to encourage your child to keep trying.

Once your child starts to get the hang of it, have her sign (or make the effort) before giving in. Just like when you are teaching a toddler good manners, you have her say “please” before getting something she wants. The same would apply for learning to sign. If you can tell by your child’s cues that she wants more of something but has not yet signed “more,” prompt her to do so before giving her more.

Here’s a great baby sign language infographic to get you started. Our first three signs were more, all done and milk. My girls have been signing over a year now and have dozens of signs they understand including some counting and ABCs.

baby sign language
Photo via www.ourcasualfriday.com.

 

Please note, the advice above is from my personal perspective. If you are seeking sign language advice for a child that has been diagnosed as hard of hearing, this is a good place to start but I am definitely not the expert. I used sign language to help with speech development only.

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Category: Babies

Tags: Baby Signing Time