When a baby is 9-months-old and waves bye-bye, they are using the sign that you’ve taught them. The baby has the motor skills to sign and communicate but not the verbal skills yet.
Using sign language with babies can greatly reduce the frustration that is felt by both the parents and the child.
There comes a time when your child wants something but they can’t verbalize what it is. They will usually point and whine. Then we play the guessing game.
Mom: “Would you like juice?”
Child: shake of the head, more point and whine.
Mom: “Would you like a snack?”
Child: stomp the foot, more point and whine.
Mom: “Ugh, I don’t know what you want. Would you like a cookie?”
Child: (Through body language) Oh? A cookie? Sure, why not!
Child: (Learns that point and whine will get me either what I want or a cookie. I’ll need to do that more often.)
Starting at about 6 months of age, you can expose your child to signing. By about 9 months of age, they can communicate their needs.
Signing will not slow their speech; in fact, by showing them that communication goes both ways, they can learn to speak sooner. You’ll want to show them the sign and say the word with it, so they learn to associate the word with the sign.
Here are a few basic signs that are easy to teach, but very helpful:
There are four other signs that I like:
Please, Thank you, Sorry, and Cookie (if you teach your child this sign, be prepared to see it often.)
I did not use sign with my first son because I didn’t know about the benefits. I did use it with my second and third sons and what a huge difference it made in our lives. The frustration level was so much less for everyone involved.
You can get an American Sign Language (ASL) Dictionary and keep it in your diaper bag. Look up signs as you want to or as the situation calls for it. There are also classes that are available which is a great way to meet other moms and have an activity to do out of the house.
As they get older you can teach them their name in ASL, then when you meet up in the park with other moms, you can say “Hey, Baby! What’s your sign?” and it won’t sound sleazy at all.