Teaching Baby To Sign – The First Steps

Teaching Baby To Sign – Simple Steps To Getting Started

Teaching baby to sign is an enjoyable bonding experience for you and your child – with no previous experience required!

Many babies naturally develop their own, simple signs – beginning with just a wave for “bye bye”. Using baby sign language expands on this innate skill by encouraging him to use a wide variety of signs to express his needs (see
communicating with baby) – the benefits of which are clear to any parent!

When should I start teaching baby to sign?

You can start at any age. Most babies, though, begin to take notice of signs at around 6 months of age and may begin using them as early as 7 or 8 months – far earler than they would be able to communicate with speech!

What signs should I use when first teaching baby to sign?

Some people like to make up their own signs to use with their babies, whereas others use more conventional signs based on formal sign language.
The advantage of using conventional signs is that they are recognised by a very wide group of people.

Wendy Jensen’s brilliant Sign Language For Babies And Beyond
advertisement is an excellent resource for parents wanting to learn how to sign with their babies and includes video demonstrations of 250 signs based on ASL (American Sign Language).

Good signs to use when first teaching baby to sign are for common words like EAT, MORE, TEDDY, SLEEP etc. Don’t try to introduce too many signs at once … and don’t try to teach more signs than baby needs. At this stage, his world revolves mainly around food, sleep and play!

Tips for getting started

  • Show the sign in context – demonstrate the object or situation
  • SAY the word, clearly and naturally, when you make the sign
  • Praise and encourage your baby, even if his attempt to make the sign is not “spot on”
  • Use baby sign language when you sing and read, stimulating your baby’s interest in the song or book
  • Watch your baby and see what interests him – use signs for objects and situations that appeal to him
  • Use the signs as often as you can and in as many places as you can, not just at home
  • Always be patient and enjoy this special time with your child

What other resources are available?

See our
recommended baby sign language books – these colourful and clearly written books are an excellent aid to introducing sign language to both you and your baby.

Baby sign flashcards are also very useful – we recommend the Sign Babies ASL Flash Cards
(US) advertisement, which are perfect for babies from and feature everyday words like “Mom”, “Dad” etc.

The Baby Signing Time Volume 1 DVDadvertisement is a wonderful aid to teaching baby to sign and includes demonstrations of 18 commonly used signs.

The award winning SIGN with your BABY – Baby Sign Language (ASL) Kitadvertisement, by Dr. Joseph Garcia, is an excellent and easy-to-follow guide to introducing sign to babies.

All babies love the Baby Einstein DVDs – now Baby Wordsworth can help you with teaching baby to sign! Baby Einstein – Baby Wordsworth – First Words – Around the House
(US only) advertisement is set to beautiful classical music and introduces baby to 30 signs for objects around the home.

Alternatively, check your local phone book for any classes or groups in your area, designed to help you with teaching your baby to sign.

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