When Anthony & I first found out we were pregnant, I just knew I was probably going to be “that mom”. You know, the one who makes her own baby food and doesn’t let anyone touch her kids. So, I figured why not be the mom who uses baby sign language, too. From years of babysitting experience, I knew that communicating with a baby who had no idea how to express themselves isn’t easy. I didn’t know much about baby sign language at the time, so I educated myself through tons of research and decided I would use it with Jace. I thought, “What’s the harm in giving it a go?”
Y’ALL. NO REGRETS. We love using sign language with Jace, and have found it to be extremely helpful!
Now, we do gets LOTS of stares and questions when we use baby sign language in public and around friends and family. THE biggest question we get is “WHY?! Why use baby sign language?” So, I thought that I would put together this guide on our experience with using baby sign language.
WHAT IS IT?
Baby sign language is “is the use of manual signing allowing infants and toddlers to communicate emotions, desires, and objects prior to spoken language development” (Wikipedia).
It is just a way for you to communicate with your babe! That’s it! There are signs for every thing under the sun, and you can choose to introduce the signs that you feel are most useful for you and your little one. A few that we use with our kids are:
Milk, More, All Done, Wait, Drink, Book, Play, Eat, and Thank You
WHY SHOULD YOU USE IT?
One of the biggest reasons for tantrums is frustration due to communication issues. Having a way for both you and your child to communicate that you both understand makes it so much easier! Baby is able to tell you what they want, desire, and need without all the guess work.
The number one misconception about baby sign language is that it delays verbal speech. This is not true and has been negated through numerous studies! Baby sign language has actually been proven to enhance verbal communication due to the connection of muscle memory to verbal words. It also reinforces the learning of things like their ABCs, animals, and learning about the world around them.
Besides those, there are lots of other benefits to teaching your child sign language; such as improved confidence, accelerated speech and emotional development, improved parent-child bonding, and more.
WHEN AND HOW DO I INTRODUCE IT?
We introduced Jace’s first sign at 6 months. I know this probably seems early, but the earlier the better! The more your child sees you using signs, the easier they will understand what they mean and how to use them.
‘Milk’ was the first sign we used with Jace. We used it every single time he nursed; so that he would be able to (eventually) connect what milk stood for and how he could use to ask for it. You have to keep consistent with it because it doesn’t happen over night. It took Jace 3 whole months to use that sign for the first time! And boy was I excited! From there, we gradually introduced more signs into his vocabulary. Every time he successfully used a sign, we would encourage him by telling him he did a good job and clapping for him.
Now, Jace is 20 months and we still use signs with him every single day! It has made communicating with him so much easier. A big resource for us has been www.babysignlanguage.com . They have all kinds of resources and information for those who are interested in utilizing baby sign language with their children. They give 4 basic steps to teaching your child baby sign language.
Step One: Make it Fun
Step Two: Repeat, Repeat
Step Three: Encourage Effort
Step Four: Expand Vocabulary
I promise you that it is much easier than you think! You just have to jump in and do it! I hope this has been helpful for you! If you have any questions, ask them in the comments down below!
With love & grace,