If you’ve wondered about how baby sign language could work for you, you’ve come to the right place. In this article I go through some of the most common questions we are asked when people find out we tight our kids to sign. I’ve also included a whole lot of videos of some of the most common signs we used with our kids.
The sooner you can help your baby to communicate their needs, the sooner you can eliminate some of the added stress and frustration that goes hand in hand with parenting. With my background as an Occupational Therapist, as well as some experience working and socialising with people with hearing impairments and various disabilities, I had picked up a few basics sign language signs and decided to put this into practise when Squirt came along.
We started signing a few basic signs to him when he was around 9 months old and he first signed back at 12 months – asking for a shower!
Our experience with baby sign language was fantastic so I thought I’d answer some of the questions people have asked me about baby sign, as well as share some of my hints and tips for helping your baby to communicate.
Common Questions about Baby Sign Language
Some of the questions we were asked were:
1. Aren’t you worried that if your baby can sign, they’ll prefer to sign rather than talk?
This was definitely not our experience. Both our children talked quite early and had, and still do have, a large vocabulary (sometimes too large based on some of the things they say to us!!!). We also felt that by reinforcing the sign with the associated word, they learned the meaning of the work quite quickly.
Don’t forget, people encourage their babies to wave “bye bye” all the time and there’s no concern that their speech will be delayed. It’s just a part of their language development.
2. How do you know what signs to use?
Like I said, I had a basic knowledge of some signs so started with them. I then googled baby sign language but found a lot of the signs weren’t as functional as I would have liked. I’m a very practical person so while it’s nice to teach your kids the signs for different animals, I wanted to start with ones that were going to help me know what my baby wanted or needed.
I tended to refer to the Auslan Signbank Dictionary for guidance. If the sign seemed basic enough then I would use that. If not, then I would adapt it slightly. Some of the signs, Squirt adapted himself so we just continued with his interpretation.
If you’re creative enough you can invent your own signs or just follow your baby’s lead. Unless you actually want them to learn proper sign language, it doesn’t actually matter what they sign is, as long as it’s simple enough for your baby to copy and you use the same sign consistently.
If you want to see what signs we use, check out the videos of Squirt and Moo demonstrating our signs below.
3. How do you get your baby to learn the signs?
Be consistent with the signs you are using. I seem to remember one sign that Hubby and I were doing differently. It didn’t really matter but it doesn’t make life easy for your poor kid trying to learn what’s going on!
If there are other people who interact with your child regularly, you may also want to teach them some or all of the signs you’re using. Remember, you’re not teaching a complex new language, you’re just using some basic hand gestures to reinforce common words you use with your child. Also, a lot of the signs are pretty easy to guess once you’ve seen them, so it’s not rocket science.
When you say a word that you have a sign for, use the sign at the same time you say the word. Once your baby starts signing back, reinforce the sign they’re using by repeating the word and using the sign yourself.
4. Is there any point teaching my baby sign language if they’re only going to use it for a couple of months?
We actually still use it at times. It’s a great way to be able to subtly remind your children to say please or thank you. There are also times when I might want to check if they need to go to the toilet but don’t want to have to yell that across a playground or room. I can just get their attention then sign “toilet” to them and they can nod or shake their head.
I think it also opens their awareness to the different ways in which people communicate. Squirt was lucky enough to have a teacher who also knew quite a lot of sign language and she used to teach him extra signs and he loved learning them.
Based on our experience, I cannot recommend using baby sign language highly enough as a way to help your baby communicate. Enjoy watching them learn! I’d love to see some videos of your little ones signing too 🙂
Some of our top signs to help your baby communicate:
Baby Sign Language – Please
Baby Sign Language – Thank You
Baby Sign Language – Milk
Baby Sign Language – Drink
Baby Sign Language – Food
Baby Sign Language – More
Baby Sign Language – Help
Baby Sign Language -Finished
Baby Sign Language -Sorry
Baby Sign Language – Bath
Baby Sign Language -Shower
Baby Sign Language – Sleep/Bed
Baby Sign Language – Book
Baby Sign Language – Music
Baby Sign Language -Toilet
Baby Sign Language -Wee Wee
Baby Sign Language -Poo
Baby Sign Language – Dog
Teaching Baby Sign Language Outtakes:
Here’s some of the fun the kids had while filming their signs!
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