Welcome Guest Blogger, Marcie Paige
How to Start Signing With Your Baby + 5 of My Favorite Signs
A common misconception is that babies lack the understanding of language. From my personal experience I can honestly tell you that the only skill your baby lacks is the verbal skills needed to communicate with you in the traditional way.
It wasn’t until my daughter was 2 years old with a signing vocabulary of 100+ signs that I realized how much I would have missed out on if she didn’t sign to me.
Signing with my daughter gave me the opportunity to communicate with her a year sooner than non-signing parents. Through my journey I learned that because I provided my daughter with the gift of early communication it allowed us to develop a much stronger bond.
I took an American Sign Language course when I was 18 because I was interested in becoming a sign language interpreter. At the time I had no idea how useful it would be to me as a parent.
Baby sign language is much easier to learn. You don’t need to be fluent in American Sign Language, or even know any signs at all when you’re starting out. You learn right along with your baby, one sign at a time, at your own pace.
How to teach a sign:
First you need to make eye contact. Your baby cannot learn a sign if they do not see it in action.
Say the word and sign it at the same time.
Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! Look for natural ways to use the sign throughout your day. The more often your child sees the sign in action, the quicker they will learn it.
How to start signing your infant or toddler:
Start with 3-5 signs. MILK, MORE, EAT, FINISHED (ALL DONE) and UP are a few of my favorites. Once you get into the habit of using these signs add a few more.
Take it slow – for yourself. There is no limit to the amount of signs your baby can learn. Kids are like sponges and can quickly soak up almost anything you expose them to.
We (moms) are different. We’re busy, sleep deprived + have mommy brain. If you’re completely new to signing, be careful not to add too many signs at once. Give yourself permission to take your time so you don’t overwhelm yourself, get frustrated + give up.
You’ll be more successful if you’re consistent with signing 20 signs, rather than sporadically signing 40 signs.
Be consistent + patient. Every baby can learn to sign if you are consistent. Most babies start signing back between 6-10 months. Sign language for babies is not an instant-gratification technique. You do need to put some time in before you see results.
You’ll be blown away the first time your baby signs to you. I know because that’s how I felt!
To keep yourself motivated, look for cues of understanding. When you sign MILK does your baby smile and get excited? That’s how you know they ‘get’ it. Your baby will sign back when they are ready and the more signs you expose them to, the more they will produce when the time is right.
Praise ALL signing attempts. Don’t worry that your baby’s form isn’t perfect. As long as you’re signing correctly they will learn the proper technique from you.
The more practice they get, the more their physical coordination will improve. You can also help your child learn a sign by taking their hands and helping them make the shape and motion.
If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to get started now! Here are a few highly effective signs to get you on the right track…
Strategy: Get your baby into position + when your baby is looking at you, sign the word MILK, and give them either your breast or a bottle.
Strategy: Once your baby’s food is in front of them, give them a bite, sign the word MORE, and give them another bite. Repeat several times throughout the meal.
Strategy: When it’s time for a meal, have your baby’s food where they can see it, sign the word EAT + then start feeding them.
Strategy: Sign FINISHED or (ALL DONE) at the end of each meal. Your baby will use the sign FINISHED to tell you they are full or all done.
Strategy: When your toddler is hanging on your leg and crying to be picked up… get down to their level + when they are looking at you, sign the word UP + pick them up.
Marcie Paige helps moms to crack the code and finally understand what makes their child tick. She turns confusion into understanding and sprinkles more fun throughout your day. Sign up for weekly inspiration and action tips at www.MarciePaige.com. She is also the creator of Adventures In Baby Signing – a six-week guided journey complete with video lessons and printable posters. Each week you learn 8-10 news signs, as well as, HOW to introduce new signs, WHEN to start, WHICH signs to teach and much, much, more!