What is baby signing?
Baby signing is a form of communication between you and your child before they learn to talk.
It has become increasingly popular over the past decade and with classes all over the world it’s never been easier to teach your child to sign.
Why sign with your baby?
Before your baby can properly vocalize their wants and needs, they must master very complex actions of the muscles in their face, these being:
•Placement of tongue
•Formation of lips
•Shaping of nasal passage
•Controlling of vocal chords
So learning to sign is a bridge to communication, before they have the ability to speak.
What are the benefits?
The first benefit of using Baby Sign Language is it gives your baby the ability to express his or her important needs and thoughts. If used together with speech (*always say the sign, don’t just sign it,) baby sign has enormous benefits for you and your family.
The reason that sign language helps hearing infants communicate is that babies have control over their hands long before they develop the fine motor skills required for speech. Signing enables them to express what they are not yet able to say.
It’s never too early or too late to begin signing with your child. The optimum age to begin signing with your child is as early as 6 or 7 months. Some babies may attempt to sign back to you as early as 10 months,(Betsy was only 7 months!)
Be sure to praise all attempts at signing, building self-esteem as you learn together. Practice signing throughout your daily routine or whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Here are just a few:
*knowing what your baby is thinking about, how they are feeling or what they are wanting
*Giving your baby a means to express themselves, months (if not a full year) ahead of words being spoken
*’tuning in’ to your baby, giving them your time and attention
*Allowing your baby to feel very happy, knowing that you’ve understood them!
*Minimising tantrums that come from not understanding eachother
*Introducing language to your baby, which then gives them the confidence to speak
*Giving them a great foundation in speech and language in the pre-school years.
How do I sign?
There are lots of classes where you can join in signing with your baby, or you can simply sign at home using signing cards or books.
You don’t have to use british sign language, you can make up your own! It’s all about communicating with your baby, and giving her the skills to communicate back.
Here are some simple signs to get you started:
Here’s my little girl B using sign – she was able to sign as early as 7 months old. Here she is signing the word ‘milk’.