In the initial months after the birth of your child, when he/she has just begun to understand the world a bit, but is still not able to speak, you can introduce him/her to sign language. While many mothers make use of sign language unconsciously with their child, like waving good-bye or blowing flying-kiss, very few of them make deliberate efforts to teach their child sign language. Leaning and using sign language can help your baby convey a lot to you, even when he/she is still not big enough to say words. So, read the following lines and learn how to teach your baby sign language.
Teaching Your Baby Sign Language
In order to teach your baby the language of signs, you will first have to learn it yourself. Start with the signs for basic words that your baby is likely to refer to, such as 'mom', 'water', 'bottle', 'milk', etc. At the same time, make sure that all the adults in the house use the same signs. If you use one sign for the word 'bottle' and your spouse the other, the baby will end up getting confused and all your efforts will get wasted.
In the initial stages, use signs for a few basic words only. If you start signing for everything, your baby might not be able to realize that you are trying to communicate with him/her. You need to a bit slow, to let him/her grasp what you are trying to do. Always start at a small level and that too with physical objects you can easily show to your baby. This way, he/she will be able to follow your signs in a better way.
Make It A Habit
Your baby will not be able to learn sign language if you use the signs on an irregular basis. You need to make signing a part of the routine interaction with your child. When you give him/her milk, make a sign for the same. Do make sure that while teaching him/her sign language, you make eye contact. This way, you will be sure that he/she has your complete attention. As you do this regularly, your baby will start making the connection between signs and things/ actions.
Add New Signs
You should know the right time to add new signs to your baby vocabulary. Ideally, you can introduce new signs to him/her every 2-3 weeks. Your baby will take at least this much time in learning the signs and communicating them back to you and after 2-3 weeks, will be ready for more learning. Initially, go for signs of physical things that you can show to him/her. However, gradually, you need to start introducing abstract signs as well, like 'up' or 'give me'.
Make Learning Fun
You can use the playtime of your child to teach him/her about the signs of various emotions, such as 'sad', 'angry' and 'scared'. You can pretend to go through these emotions and associate different signs with them, while using the appropriate facial expressions and body language. Apart from increasing his/her sign vocabulary; this will help your baby ease the frustrations that cause tantrums and aggression, by expressing them through signs.
You can always make use pf picture books, to teach your baby signs about the things that are not available in the immediate vicinity, such as a 'park'. Make sure that the pictures are colorful and attractive, so that they catch the attention of your baby almost immediately. For instance, you can show him/her the picture of a laughing cartoon and use a particular sign for the emotion that particular cartoon is feeling.