Ultimate Guide to Baby Sign Language: Communicate Before They Talk

April 22nd, 2023
Ultimate Guide to Baby Sign Language: Communicate Before They Talk

You may not have encountered it, but baby sign language has become a popular trend with a long-lasting appeal you can use with your baby.

This is because using signs with babies is founded on the basic idea that children can be instructed to communicate with their hands long before they can articulate words with their mouths.

What is Baby Sign Language, Anyway?

Baby sign language involves the utilization of bodily and manual signals to assist babies in communicating before they acquire the ability to talk.

Do you use American Sign Language for Baby Sign Language?

No, but you can use ASL as a basis for baby sign language if you want to.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a full-fledged language with different grammar and vocabulary expressed through hand and facial movements. In contrast, baby sign language involves utilizing hand signals and physical gestures to interact with babies.

While some parents use American Sign Language, developing your own signs and gestures is appropriate for you and your baby's requirements.

It is recommended that you choose the most suitable signs that are easier to understand for you and your baby's needs.

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We at Omega Pediatrics care for our patients like family. You may book an appointment here if you need a compassionate pediatrician for your baby, and we can help you develop a baby sign language for your little one!

Baby Sign Language Benefits for Your Newborn

Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider basic sign language with your baby:

You get to bond and have a connection with your baby.

Using sign language with babies provides increased positive interaction between parent and child, which is an excellent way to strengthen their bond.

A fun and creative suggestion we admire is to integrate signs into popular baby songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."

If you approach teaching sign language to your baby as a pleasurable and satisfying experience, it will be enjoyable for both parties. Conversely, if it lacks enjoyment, it may not be worth pursuing.

You are removing the language barrier between you and your baby.

The use of sign language with infants has been proven effective in improving communication. Baby sign language is popular among new parents because infants and toddlers often have not developed enough and struggle to express their desires and needs verbally.

Understandably, children between 8-9 months and 18-24 months get frustrated as they start comprehending their desires but don't have enough verbal skills to express them.

In essence, if simple sign language enables babies to use their hands to communicate effectively as early as 8 or 9 months, it can bridge this otherwise long period of communication difficulty.

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How to Teach Your Little One Baby Sign Language?

Although it's not necessary for new parents, learning baby sign language has become accessible. Many resources, such as books, videos, websites, and apps, provide baby sign language basics.

Many parents find baby sign language highly useful. Hence, it isn’t surprising that they have made it a part of their daily routine for learning.

To assist you in getting started, here are some general guidelines on teaching your little one baby sign language.

  1. Create a sign for actions that you want your infant to recognize.

Develop a gesture you want your baby to understand. Incorporate these signs to depict everyday activities and familiar objects in your baby's daily life.

      2. Make it a habit and repeat as needed.

As with most of your baby’s learning, repetition is crucial in teaching sign language. To increase the chances of success, it's essential to use sign language as a regular part of your routine rather than a one-time lesson.

Use the same signs consistently. For instance, indicating "eat" by tapping your fingers to your lips and expressing "more" by touching your left and right fingertips together can effectively communicate with your baby through gestures.

     3. Combine your baby's sign language with words.

It should be emphasized that introducing sign language to your baby's communication should not reduce the time spent talking with them.

Sign language can be a complementary tool to spoken language and should not be a replacement. Keep talking with your baby and encourage them to express themselves using their words and signs.

     4. You have to be an understanding parent.

Baby sign language takes time to be learned. The best time to teach your baby is when they reach six to seven months old.

     5. Do not get angry when baby sign language doesn’t work!

It's perfectly fine if your baby doesn't get the signs accurately or learn them quickly. The main objective is to have a good time and enhance communication rather than causing stress.

    6. Share your baby's sign language with other people in the household.

It is important to share the signs you use with your baby's other caregivers. This includes everyone in the household and other people who frequently interact with your baby. Everyone should be on the same page once your baby starts signing.

You can also involve childcare providers who may teach your baby sign language. If your baby's provider is teaching them sign language, ask for a brief tutorial to understand what your baby is communicating to you through signing.

You may also use a baby sign language app or a baby sign language chart for easy recollection.

newborn-baby-doctor-adorable-boy-sitting-on-wooden-platform Inguinal Hernia

Common Baby Signs to Teach Your Baby

When beginning to teach your baby sign language, developing signs that feel natural to you and your baby is important. Any simple gesture that corresponds with a word or phrase can work effectively. Below are some baby sign language signs that are useful:

  • Hungry: Rub your baby's belly with your hand.
  • Milk: Do a squeezing gesture with your fingers as if you are milking a cow's udder.
  • More: Touch the tips of your fingers to your thumb on each hand, then touch your fingertips together repeatedly.
  • All done: Hold your hands with your palms facing upward and twisting them back and forth.
  • Up: Lift your arms in the air.
  • Down: Pointing your index finger downward with your palm facing down. Then, lower your hand.
  • Sleep: Tilt your head to one side and rest/support it with your hands.
  • Daddy: Tap your thumb on your forehead. Use an open palm facing up.
  • Mommy: Tap your thumb on your chin with an open palm facing up.
  • Eat/food: Tap your fingertips to your mouth with your palm facing down and your thumb touching your fingers.
  • Drink: Hold your hand in a cup shape and bring it to your mouth.

Tips & Tricks to Make Learning Fun & Engaging

You can make teaching sign language to babies more interesting and enjoyable by incorporating sign language activities.

  1. Use familiar objects and toys to help your baby understand better.

Incorporate toys while teaching about tangible objects. Utilize blocks when teaching theoretical notions. An example is when you stack the blocks, you can label each with the word "block" as you place it on top of another.

You can use gestures to show that the tower of blocks is getting higher, such as the sign for "up" or "top." Sign language activities for babies should be enjoyable to keep their attention.

Using dolls can also be a great way to teach babies different signs. Give your infant or toddler a doll and help them dress, feed, or comb their hair. You can add signs for "doll," "dress," "eat," "shoes," "comb-hair," and more for each action.

Using consistent signs and words for each activity with the doll is important.

      2. Make use of photos and illustrations.

Using books with photos and illustrations is an effective method to enhance the baby’s overall cognitive development. Infant books are particularly helpful, especially when filled with colorful pictures and illustrations of objects, people, and animals.

One way to use picture books is to link the pictures to objects in their surroundings. For instance, if there is a picture of a dog, you can point to your pet dog and use the sign "dog" to associate the picture with the real-life object.

The endless possibilities make books an excellent resource for sign language activities for babies.

3. Sing while doing the baby sign language!

Singing and humming are helpful approaches. Include catchy sounds/tunes or baby sign language songs in daily activities.

Sign language activities for babies become more effective in aiding instruction and education.

Teach Your Littles Ones With Baby Sign Language Today!

Nonverbal communication is important for a baby's language development and can convey meaningful information. However, not all gestures are equally effective.

A good strategy is to observe your baby's natural attempts at communication and utilize a blend of spoken language and clear gestures such as pointing and pantomiming.

Additionally, it is helpful to incorporate signs and gestures that you and your baby spontaneously use since they are meaningful and easier to remember.

While teaching your baby sign language can be fun and useful, we at Omega Pediatrics believe it is important to focus on gestures that are easy to understand and have personal meaning to your baby.

Are you looking for a pediatrician near Roswell, Georgia, to help you with baby sign language? You may book an appointment here!