Honestly, I don’t even remember how my husband and I came to the agreement that we were going to start baby sign language with our son. It was important to both of us to instill a passion of curiosity and learning into him as early as we could. I think one day when I was pregnant I may have said something like, “I think we should do baby sign language.” My husband jumped on board right away!
It turns out there are a lot of benefits to teaching babies sign language:
A Genius Baby
The early exposure helps develop baby’s reasoning and communication skills. From personal experience, it really did encourage a desire to learn within our son because to him it’s a game. We walk around the house finding the different colors and naming objects with words and sign. Not to mention when we are outside of the house and somebody sees him signing, they immediately comment on how smart he is…HELLO parental ego boost!
A Chill Baby
Because babies that know sign language can communicate needs and wants at a younger age, that means fewer meltdowns and tantrums. What parent doesn’t want that?! It also aids in speech development. So while other toddlers are at the park are running around screaming in frustration because mommy and daddy can’t figure out what they are saying, my son walks over to me while simultaneously saying and signing that we are outside playing in the grass. WIN!
A Happy Baby
Baby sign language is a total confidence and self-esteem booster! My husband and I always get so excited when our son catches onto a new sign, whether we’ve been working on it for months, or he grasps it within a day! And it’s so adorable to see how excited he gets when he figures it out, too! I can see the little baby pride radiating from him whenever we tell him how smart he is.
So…how do you get started?
We began teaching signs when our son was big enough to sit in his high chair so that we had plenty of good eye-contact. He was about four months old which may have been too soon, but we were just so eager to start! We patiently encouraged simple signs like “more”, “mama”, and “daddy”. We made sure that we didn’t pressure him or get frustrated when he wasn’t catching on, and simply waited for the day that it clicked. It wasn’t until he was about 8 months that he started really getting it! Signing colors seemed to be the easiest and quickest for him to understand. Perhaps that’s because babies are always surrounded by bright colored toys and he was eager to distinguish them from one another.
We also began singing and signing the alphabet to him all the time at a very young age! While eating, during playtime, in the bath, and after a change. At first he didn’t seem to care at all but eventually he started to pay attention to what we were doing with our hands. He started making the sounds of the alphabet and could name the letters that we signed to him. It was still mostly baby talk, but we noticed the distinction in the sounds of each letter he said. With more and more practice, the words became clearer and soon enough, he wasn’t even a year old and could say the whole alphabet!
Tips for teaching sign
- Repetition is key! Signing needs to become secondary to you so that baby is seeing it all the time! Even when baby isn’t paying very close attention, keep it up!
- Singing songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” is great way to get your baby to associate hand movements with words.
- Don’t get frustrated! Our son kept getting the signs for mama and daddy mixed up at first, but the point is that he was doing it! He was trying! A lot of positive reinforcement is the best way to deal with mistakes.
- Create games by using sign. My son loves to dump his blocks all over the floor and pick up the colors that I sign to him. I also like to sign objects around the house and have him run to them. There are all kinds of things you can do!
- One of the best tools that we ever used was the show “Signing Time” on Netflix! They have all kinds of catchy jingles and show different children doing signs! Check it out! Baby will love it!
Do you have any tips or tricks that you used while teaching babe how to sign?