At dinnertime, your seven month old instantly makes baby signs using his/her tiny little hands and conveys that he/she wants water, as he/she is thirsty. Sounds impossible! However, it is true, your infant can communicate and let you know, when his/her tummy hurts, when he/she is thirsty, or when he/she wants his/her teddy bear. Babies are just like adults when it comes to communication. When they are unable to communicate their needs, it results in frustration, crying, and tantrums. Baby sign language consists of baby hand and finger signs, which indicate words, ideas, and concepts that he/she wishes to communicate. From words like ‘milk’, ‘hungry’, ‘pain’ to ‘teddy bear’ etc, your little one can communicate all. By learning baby sign language, infants quickly learn to associate particular gesture with a particular object. So, by using baby sign language, your little one can let you know about his/her needs. This also saves you from the trouble of pulling each of his/her favorite items and asking him/her “This? Is this what you want?” It is not difficult to teach your little one baby sign language. Here are some tips to help you.
Teaching Baby Sign Language
- The first question, which most often parents ask is ‘What is the appropriate age for starting with baby sign language?’ As such, there is no particular age, but you can start when you feel that your little one is ready. A good way to judge if your baby is ready, is when your little one can understand and use most easy hand motions. This can include your little one’s gesture for ‘hi’ and ’bye’.
- Once you decide that it’s time for teaching your little one baby signs, then there are certain steps you need to follow. Start by introducing a few simple words. Choose the words, which represent something with which your baby is quite familiar. Your choice of words/ signs can include ‘milk’, ‘dog’, ‘dad’, ‘mom’, ‘toy’. These words are easy to grasp by your little one. In first step only, don’t introduce words like ‘pain’ and ‘hunger’ to your little one as they are difficult to grasp by your child.
- While teaching baby signs to your kid, remember that you make a constant eye contact with him/her. This will make him/her understand that you are instructing something, which he/ she needs to follow.
- The only way to make your baby understand the connection between the sign and the object is by ensuring that he/she doesn’t miss your hand gesture. Repeat your hand gesture frequently and then point to the object you are associating it with. You might need to repeat this step a few times so that your child can understand and register it.
- At first, your little one will appear confused and make funny faces! This just means that he/she is trying to understand what you intend to tell him/her.
- When your baby makes the first baby sign language gesture, it will appear uncoordinated and difficult to recognize as a hand sign. So, in the beginning you need to pay close attention to your infant’s hand movement in order to recognize his/her attempts to use baby sign language.
- Once your baby learns a sign for his/her favorite word then this word acts as a base for adding other descriptive words. For example, if your child has learnt a sign for ‘milk’ then you can begin teaching him combination of words like, ‘cow milk’, ‘bottle milk’ etc. Add the words with which your child can associate.
- What you need for teaching your little one, sign language, is loads of patience. It might take weeks for your little one to learn the first word.