One of the newest trends in communication with babies is using baby sign language. Many parents are using sign language to facilitate communication with their little ones and it has proven to be very effective. Babies and toddlers are very limited in their ability to tell others what they want and need. Using baby sign language is an effective way to help a little one process language.
Baby sign language helps reduce the number of tantrums that a toddler has. Many times, a toddler will become extremely frustrated when he is unable to tell others what he needs. He does not have the skills required to articulate his wants and needs through speech. Gestures are much easier for a baby to use and the gestures do not have to match the American Sign Language designated signs for objects and activities. A baby can use a waving gesture to ask for a cookie. As long as his caretakers know what the gesture means, it works.
Parents can begin using baby sign language through modeling. Sign language is very visual and it is easier for a baby to remember than spoken words. The baby begins to connect the spoken word with the gesture and with the object or activity very quickly. My daughter does not use sign language yet, but she understands signs for the words “more, want, help, ball, play” and “eat” on sight. Gradually, she will begin to imitate the baby sign language and finally she will use the words.
My daughter does not like when I use hand over hand prompts to help her use sign language and many babies won’t. They need to observe the gestures and pick them up gradually. Baby sign language should not be forced and it should not be structured. The best approach to using sign language for babies is to connect the words with the signs and with the object or activity.
One of the most popular signs to teach first is “more” because it is very easy for a baby to understand. If you are swinging a baby in a swing, take a moment to stop swinging and sign “more” before continuing the activity. It is not necessary to require the baby to use sign language. Modeling the signs is a great way to introduce them. The baby will eventually begin using the sign language on his own as he learns to imitate.
Once the little one begins to use baby sign language, you will find that he also begins to articulate the words associated with the signs. Make it fun. Involve activities and things that the baby loves and you will have a great start on building your child’s communication skills. Baby sign language is the first step to developing good communication skills, and in turn, good behavior.
Teaching Baby Sign Language