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Baby Sign Language: Basic Signs to Teach your Baby
An introduction to Baby Sign Language and what you need to know to get off to a good start with infant communication. Below you can find tips on how to communicate with your baby including baby signs with an infographic.
Baby Sign Language
Becoming a parent is the most wonderful experience, full of excitement, joy and anticipation. However, it can also be an overwhelming time and it flies by so quickly.
Perhaps you have asked yourself how you can make the most of every moment during the first precious year of your baby’s life, making sure to create a strong bond and lay the foundation for a strong relationship that lasts a lifetime.
I for one had all those thoughts when my first baby was born!
Now I have the benefit of hindsight and several year’s experience parenting two multilingual kids, my youngest is nearly 3. More than anything else, focusing on communication has had a huge impact on our parenting and I strongly believe that it can have a very positive effect on every family.
What is Baby Sign Language / Infant Communication?
Infant Communication is a parenting tool based on baby sign language. It uses modified signs from British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) to enable small babies to communicate their needs and wants using easy to perform gestures before they are able to speak.
I have developed this method of family communication over the last 6 years. I have been teaching English as a foreign language for nearly 20 years, I have lived and worked in several European countries and have always been fascinated by communication.
Sometimes having good smooth communication can seem so difficult. Whether it’s a multilingual context, complex personalities or cross-cultural difficulties, communication can be hard sometimes. I have always wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to communicate and really connect, whether in a business situation or in more social scenarios.
Why all this background about teaching English here…? Because when I was researching baby sign language to use within my own family this is the direction I came from. I wanted to find a way to make our family’s communication easy, natural and effective. And I wanted to give my children the opportunity to communicate as early as possible.
While teaching both my own kids to communicate using baby signs before they could speak, I started offering local workshops in baby sign language and was able to develop the Infant Communication Method with great results.
This method helps you get started easily by presenting the 5 most useful baby signs to focus on. It helps you build a routine so that you sign consistently with your baby. It helps you make successful communication a continuing focus in your family. I’m very happy to introduce the Infant Communication Method to you too.
What are the benefits of Baby Sign Language / Infant Communication?
There are several benefits of early infant communication via signs. The main ones being:
- Baby Sign helps you to create a strong bond with your baby
- Baby Sign helps you avoid the frustration and crying that occurs when your baby is unable to express themselves through speech
- Baby Sign boosts cognitive development helping your baby to develop a larger vocabulary and laying the foundation for reading.
When should you start focusing on Baby Signing / Infant Communication?
As soon as possible. If you are trying to conceive or pregnant why not get a head start and learn about the method now? This way you will avoid a large learning curve later when baby has already arrived and you are busy and tired.
If you already have a baby, that’s great, you can get going straight away. The older your baby the quicker the uptake so don’t feel that you have left it too late. Using baby signs remains useful until your children are speaking in full sentences and you might find you continue to use the signs within your family even after that! Also anything you learn now about communicating with babies would be useful for supporting future siblings.
What Baby Signs should you learn first?
There are 5 baby signs that always seem to be the most popular and I suggest you start with them first. Check out the infographic to see how to perform them.
Basic Baby Sign Language
Find below the 5 most useful baby signs:
- I love you. This sign is based on the letter L for love.
- Milk. All babies love milk!
- Eat. Get a head start on weaning.
- More. This is a multi-use sign that can help your baby tell you they want more food, more play or more of anything really.
- Sleep. Use this one to reinforce nap time and the bedtime routine.
When should you sign with your baby?
Make sure to use the baby signs when talking to your baby every day. The more consistent you are the better your chances of success.
It is important to use the signs in context. So, when you are offering your baby milk, use the ‘milk’ sign while continuing to speak to your child.
Most babies can attach meaning to visual symbols from around 6 months old. But for some it can happen much earlier (or later) and this is completely normal, as all children are different.
When will my baby sign back?
If your baby is interested in communication you can expect them to sign back at around 9 months old when they have the necessary motor skills within their hands to do so. Watch out for when they start waving and pointing and you know they are good to go!
Of course, the normal range for individual babies to do anything is very wide and comparison is not to be recommended. Your baby might start signing back much earlier than this. Or much later. And that is normal and to be expected.
5 tips to help you make this a success
- Make sure you are consistent with using the signs in context
- Put up reminders to help you learn and use the signs, for example write ‘sign milk’ on the formula box to help you remember to use the sign when you are offering your baby milk
- Connect with other families who are using signs to help you stay motivated (Join our Facebook Group here)
- Group Baby Sign Language Course. (Sign Up Here)
- Look out for how your baby is already communicating with you. For example do they always make the same funny face when they pee or poo? How can you use that to help them?
Imagine how great you will feel when your baby signs to you for the first time and don’t give up!
How can I get more support with Baby Signing / Infant Communication?
Download my free get started guide HERE (including a print-out page of the 5 most useful signs for display) and receive more support directly from me on this exciting journey to great communication for your family.
I will keep in touch with you via email and you will be the first to hear about when enrolment next opens to the Infant Communication online video course. This complete step-by-step proven method to helping your baby communicate with you before they can speak is everything you need to make baby sign language a success for your family!
Author: Roya Caviglia is an English language teacher from the UK who runs a language school in the Netherlands. She has developed a simple but powerful baby signing method, Infant Communication, and she is eager to bring this knowledge to as many families as possible!