Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baby Signs 101

1.  It is never too late to begin signing. Most online signing resources recommend consistent signing by 6 months, but, in my experience, babies don't quickly catch on to new signs until about 12 months.  Signs are just as helpful and developmentally appropriate for a verbal 18 month old as for a non-verbal 12 month old.  Even big toddlers and children can benefit from signing!

2.  Don't give up.  The older your baby is, the easier it is to grasp the signing concept and pick up new signs.  But, even older toddlers need time to understand the correlation between the sign, the word and the object or action described.  Once the concept clicks, new signs are easily acquired.

3.  Consistency is key.  The more often your baby sees the sign and hears the corresponding word, the easier is to learn a new sign.  You might feel silly signing and repeating yourself to a baby who has not conceptualized singing but rest assured, every baby can sign!

4. Start with fun signs.  As parents, we view signs as a way to teach our very young children communication skills.  Therefore, we tend to teach helpful words as first signs -- milk, please, thank you, more, etc.  But, think about your child's interests in choosing the first signs to teach. Cat, dog, fish, fan, lights, stars, and moon are all great first signs to get your baby excited about signing.

5.  Don't be afraid to make up your own signs.  There is no rule saying you must use the official Baby Signs sign language with your child.  Go with the flow, follow your child's lead and experiment with different signs as your baby broadens her signing vocabulary.

6.  Signing helps all babies.  Do not fear your baby will be a late talker if she learns signs.  Research states that signing helps baby's brain develop the capacity for spoken language in a way that simply talking to baby does not promote, amongst other benefits.  As previously mentioned, children of all ages can benefit from signs as a way to promote verbal development.  And of course, the emotional benefit of signing is invaluable  to a non-verbal child who can finally express herself in a positive and easily understood manner.

Online Resources:


Mandi @ Catholic Newlywed said...

Sometimes I feel like you read my mind! You are always writing really helpful posts about topics I've been thinking about. I recently ordered a few books about signing with my baby (who is still not here, by the way!). I think I'm going to have to go back through all your past posts before I started reading because I'm sure you have some other great posts that would help answer other questions I have about raising a little one.

The Conner Clan said...

We dabbled in sign language when my little one was a baby. She didn't use many signs but at almost 3 years she still signs please when she says cute!

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Mandi, still no baby! It won't be long now! Thanks for the sweet remarks!

TCC, my 3 year old still signs thank you as he says the word too. But, it's Ginny to me how it is like he has never seen Liza's née signs even though they are the same ones he used until just a few months ago.

This post desperately needs editing! Please excuse my mistakes until I can get on my laptop!

Amanda @ Gratefully Growing in Grace said...

I'm glad to see #5 because the only signs my little one knows are ones that started as "correct" and got too sloppy. But, they're consistent at least!

Jude and Alisha said...

Confession: The second I "gave up" and taught Charlotte to sign, "Please," the next day she started saying it.

I've admittedly been wearing of teaching signs because I wanted my kids to talk instead of signing once they were able to, but now I see I was all wrong. The sign can be an aid, not an obstacle.