The Fun of Teaching Your Baby to Sign
It’s easy enough to read some of your baby’s body language, such as the cry he makes when he’s hungry or the frown on his face when he’s filling up his diaper.
However, signing lets you communicate even more with your baby. Your baby will be able to let you know what he needs so that you can give it to him and make your bond with him even stronger.
Another benefit to signing is that you’ll be helping to build his language skills since as he learns the signs you’ll be saying the words out loud.
You may be wondering how to start teaching your baby to sign. You can teach him on your own using books or DVDs, or you might want to enroll in a signing class.
Before you start signing with your baby there are a few things that you’ll want to know so that you both have fun and get the most out of learning.
When Is Your Baby Ready to Sign?
The best time to start teaching your baby to sign is when he’s about nine months old. You can try teaching him earlier if you’re getting clues that he’s trying to communicate with you.
Some of these clues include babbling that is starting to make sense or when certain syllables are repeated. At nine months some babies will appear to be copying what you’re trying to say.
Other babies will use their eyes to communicate with you, such as that deep and intense stare when you’re eating something he would like to try.
Still, other babies may lift up their arms when they want you to pick them up. These are all clues that your baby is ready to start learning how to sign with you.
The Right Time of Day to Sign
Not only is there a right age to start signing with your baby, but there is also a right time of day. Don’t try teaching your baby to sign when he’s cranky and ready to go down for a nap.
The best time of the day to teach signing is when he’s contented and rested, such as after a nap or at the end of a meal. If your baby is feeling out of sorts and seems a bit grumpy, hold off on a signing lesson.
Signing when he’s not in the mood will only lead to frustration for both of you. You want to make signing lessons are a part of your baby’s everyday routine.
It should be something enjoyable that you both look forward to.
Keep Baby Signing Simple
When teaching your baby to sign it’s best to keep it simple and focus on everyday words that he’s going to understand.
Since you spend so much of each day feeding your baby, start with signs that are related to his meals. You can start with easy things such as “all done” or “more.”
Then you can move on to items that are familiar to him, such as “spoon” or “milk”. You can use the signs that you learn in signing class or you can decide to make up your own gestures if you want.
It’s not the exactness of the sign that is going to matter so long as he’s able to recognize what you’re doing and then is able to do it himself with his chubby little hands.
Consistency Matters in Signing
It’s important that you be consistent when teaching your baby to sign. Once you’ve taught him a word, make sure that you repeat it whenever you can.
For instance, if you’ve taught him the signing word for “milk” then be sure to ask him throughout the day if he wants some milk.
You want your baby to see that words and signs are connected. Eventually, it will all start to link together for him and he’ll start to make the sign for “milk” on his own.
This might take a few weeks or it might be a couple of months. Be patient and consistent and you’ll soon see your baby signing happily away with you.
Make Signing Fun!
The most important thing about teaching your baby to sign is that you make it fun. Trying to get into the routine of signing with him can start to seem like work if you let it.
So to keep it fun, try to combine signing lessons into playing with your baby. When you’re looking at books together and you find a word for a sign that he knows, make sure that you do the sign as you’re reading the word.
Do the same when it comes to songs that you’re singing to him or that he’s listening to. The same goes for when the two of you are playing with his toys.
You want to reinforce the connection between the sign and the word whenever you can. By keeping it fun and simple, you’ll soon find your little one signing away with you whenever he finds a word that he knows!