With a new little baby on the way I’m hearing lots of advice but there is one thing that I’ve heard more than anything else – learn sign language for babies! I’ve heard that it has so many benefits including better communication, development, and reduced fussiness. Who wouldn’t want all that? I’m willing to give it a try! Here is a guest post from an expert on baby sign language, Misty Weaver. If you have anything you would like to share about what worked and what didn’t work for you please leave them a note in the comment section. I would love to hear as much feedback on this as possible. I’ll turn it over to Misty now…
If you are a complete Infant Sign Language beginner, make life easy by following these four simple steps…
Learn some simple but useful signs.
Beginners are best to start off with signs that you and your baby can practice every day – signs like Mommy, Daddy and Milk are great because your baby will see Mommy and Daddy and drink milk every day! Although these signs are easy to master it’s a good idea to practice them yourself a few times before signing to your baby. Either attend a Baby Signing class or look up some free online resources to help you learn your first few signs. Limit yourself to only four or five to begin with – you can add more signs when you and your baby are more confident.
Use the signs as often as you can every day.
Once you have learned a sign yourself, you should make this sign every time you say the word to your baby. Make the sign every time you do an action or use an object. This can feel strange at first, but with practice it will become second-nature. When you make a sign, say the word clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing.
Stick with it.
Babies learn through repetition and it can take about two months of exposure to a sign for babies over six months to learn the sign and be ready to use it themselves. So stick with it! You can use Sign Language For Babies when you’re shopping, playing, feeding – anywhere you get the chance. Be creative, have fun – just make sure you repeat the signs often. Remember to keep your facial expressions positive when you are signing. You want your baby to associate sign language with having fun. Don’t stress it.
Encourage your baby’s signing attempts.
When your baby makes her first sign, encourage her efforts enthusiastically. Don’t worry if she hasn’t got the sign ‘perfect’ or even if you can’t tell what the sign is meant to be! The important thing is that she’s starting to communicate with you by signing and that’s a big step. Give her plenty of praise, attention and eye-contact to show her you are impressed with her efforts. When she gets these positive vibes from you she will be encouraged to try and try again.
So remember: repetition is everything, be patient, and be encouraging. And take it slowly. Use a few signs to begin with, and when you and your baby have mastered these you can move on to include more signs in your repertoire. Most of all – have fun!