How to Teach Sign Language to Your Baby
Are you having a hard time understanding your baby? This can be bad in the long term, as it is possible for young children who find communication with adults a tad too difficult to experience problems in development, both physical and behavioral. A good thing is that you can prevent this by fostering early parent-child communication through sign language. Teaching babies sign language have a risk of delaying speech however, but that risk is far outweighed by the benefits: advanced cognitive development, reduced tantrums, and, of course, a better bond with your child.
You can start developing sign language lessons by observing your child’s hand gestures. From there, you can formulate short lessons that your kid will find rather enjoyable. You may begin teaching your baby sign language at six months or more but not later than nine months, so that they have a sufficient level of hand coordination to form the necessary hand gestures.
You will need to get your baby’s attention to begin lessons. The most effective way to do this is by calling them by their name or whatever moniker you usually call them, or by showing them toys or objects that best represent the word that you are about to teach them. Remember though, that it is always best to stick with simple words, such as familiar nouns and verbs.
If you have no idea where to begin, here are four simple words that you would like to start teaching your baby. For these quick lessons, you will need to prepare a book, food, milk, and your baby’s favorite toy.
- “Eat” is an important word to teach your baby, which means we won’t leave it out of this list. You can teach this before the start of your baby’s meal. Say, “eat” and make a hand gesture for this word by placing your fingers’ tips together and moving them to and from your mouth. After this, show your baby their food while making the “eat” sign. Condition your baby to this sign by repeating this lesson during every meal.
- Another word that you can teach your child is an object they are most fond with: “toy.” As with the book, first show your baby their favorite toy. Now while the image of a toy may sound a little too difficult to portray with your hands, the best gesture for it is actually quite simple. To create such hand gesture, tuck your thumb between your index finger and middle finger, and then twist your hand repeatedly like you are playing with the toy sign. Show this sign to your baby while saying the word, “toy.” Repeat the lesson several times.
- Another very familiar word to teach your baby is “milk.” To create the gesture for milk, simply squeeze your hand into a fist repeatedly, just like you are squeezing an udder. For this lesson, offer milk to your child and then show them the gesture. As with “eat,” be sure to repeat the lesson every time you give your baby their milk.
- If you are fond of reading your baby stories, you might want to start teaching them the word “book.” Show your child a familiar book, like one you often read them stories or show them pictures with for example. Be sure to say, “book” to familiarize them with the word, and then form a book with your hands by having your palms placed together and opening them. You will need to repeat this lesson several times, at the end of which, open the book to read stories or sing songs to your child, or to show them the pictures they love.
There are plenty of other words that you can teach your baby, but be sure to stick to common, familiar ones. Buying a book on baby sign language would help a lot, although in this day and age, you might as well just get similar information available in the World Wide Web.
By now, you probably have an idea how to teach sign language to your baby. The key idea is to show them the appropriate object, associate the object with a particular hand gesture, rinse and repeat. With enough repetitions, your baby will eventually catch on and will make the signs themselves. Should you notice that they have finally learned the hand signals, be sure to reward them with a hug and a litany of loving words.