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: