Baby Sign Language
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
Babies begin to communicate with you from the moment they are born by using body language and sounds. These sounds will slowly develop into speech as they grow, but until they do (and even after they begin to speak), you can incorporate baby sign language to help your little ones along the way.
Often times parents worry that incorporating baby sign language will inhibit their child’s speech, however, it has actually been proven to speed up the development of spoken communication. Babyfirst’s Sign Language Expert, Jessica Berrins, Certified Signing Time Instructor and owner of My Classy Baby, breaks down the basics for us below.
Sign language gestures can help little ones tell you how they feel. When they have a way to let you know what they want or what is bothering them, it helps alleviate frustration and enhance development. Once you can understand them, your bond and relationship strengthen.
Using sign language has many benefits. It helps improve children’s cognitive skills, which are the main skills used for thinking, reading, memorizing, and focusing. It can also help with your little one’s social skills as they learn from an early age to incorporate eye contact while communicating.
The beauty of teaching sign language to your little ones is that you don’t have to set time aside to train with them. From an earlier age, you can begin to incorporate these gestures in your day to day life. When you pick up your babies to nurse or give them a bottle, ask them aloud if they want milk while using the sign for “milk”. When you put your children on your lap to read them a story, use the sign for “book” before picking it up to read. You can also use sign language as a way to help your babies understand what is coming up next in their daily routine. This can help prevent tantrums which can be caused by confusion. For example, if your little ones are content and playing, lifting them up to eat without giving them a “heads up”, might frustrate them. Before picking them up to place them in their high chair, let them know out loud that it is time to eat and sign the word “eat” or “food” for them to recognize the word.
They will begin to understand the meaning behind the signs you use with them before their little fingers can make the gestures. At around 6-8 months old, when they will begin to have better control of their hands, they will start to use these signs with you and help you understand what they are asking for.
Below are some simple signs to begin using with your little ones.