If you have been paying close attention to your baby, you have probably noticed that before she can even talk, she has been trying to communicate with you. Crying, pointing, smiling, and laughing are all forms of communication and, although at first it can be a guessing game, with time and effort you can identify what your little one means.
If you wish to better understand your baby’s needs and desires, you could try a personalized version of baby sign language.
What is baby sign language?
Baby sign language is a communication tool that seeks to motivate babies to communicate with gestures. It works by using manual signing that allows babies to communicate their wants and even their emotions before they can talk.
This form of communication decreases frustration, promotes language development, and helps increase the parent-child bond. The evidence regarding these claims is still limited, but there has been lots of praise and positive anecdotes from parents and professionals who use this tool.
Complementing language with gestures and signing might diminish the frustration experienced by children who know what they want, but still do not have the verbal skills to express themselves. Signing with babies is a promising and interesting field for research. Preliminary findings have identified that being attuned to their little one’s gestures motivates parents to be more mindful of their baby’s unique forms of communication, leading to a decrease in miscommunication and, therefore, supports a healthy attachment.
So how do you begin?
If you want to try baby sign language you can begin at home with these easy steps.
- Look up some existing baby signs online or make up some on your own and begin signing the gesture every time you say the word behind the sign.
- Be realistic, you can begin teaching your little one signs at 6 months of age or even before, but he might not respond back until maybe around 8 months.
- Keep it simple. Make sure your gestures are simple and meaningful in your little one’s life. For example, teach eat, sleep, milk, mom, dad, book, etc.
- Make sure your little one is paying attention. Always sign when you say the word you want to teach, but make sure your little one can see you.
- Respond to symbolic gestures that your little one makes up.
- Model pointing. Most babies begin pointing as a means of communication between 9 and 12 months, so point away. Point to pictures in books, specific parts of an object, or even things that make sounds.
- Respond to your baby’s requests made by pointing, and make some requests by pointing yourself. Point to a toy and ask for it, or point and ask what color it is.
- Use natural gestures with your baby. You can add signs to your signing repertoire that are not made up by you or someone else. Gestures are a natural form of communication, use facial gestures, pointing, nodding yes and no, and many other common gestures to communicate with your little one.
- Have fun and be patient. Always remember to keep signing light and fun. Don’t get discouraged if your little one does not sign back right away, keep trying and make sure you abstain from making this tool seem like a chore.
- Finally, don’t forget to keep talking to your little one to develop his language skills and strengthen communication.
Let us know if you have tried baby sign language and if it has worked for you and your little one.
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