Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baby Sign Language – Dos and Don’ts

Written By Misty Weaver

Baby sign language is a really cool way of teaching your child to communicate with you before she can talk. It is easy to learn and – once you’ve got the hang of it – lots of fun. To make a start all you need to do is learn a few basic signs and practice, practice, practice. Here are the some important dos and don’ts for Baby Sign Language beginners…

Do start off with signs you and baby can practice every day – signs like Mommy, Daddy and Milk are great for beginners. You will need to make signing a natural part of your interaction with your baby, so finding signs you can incorporate into all your usual activities works really well.

Don’t forget you’ll need to learn the signs yourself first! Although the signs are easy to learn it’s a good idea to practice them yourself a few times before signing to your baby. Either attend a Baby Signing class or look up some free online resources to help you learn your first signs.

Do practice as often as you can. Once you have learned a sign yourself, you should make this sign every time you say the word or do the action with your baby. It is really important to say the word clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing.

Don’t use too many signs to begin with. Limit yourself to only four or five signs to begin with – you can add more signs when you and baby are more confident.

Do sign when your baby is alert and not too tired, using something which is really exciting to her, such as Milk or Mommy.

Don’t forget that repetition is the key to baby sign language. It’s important to make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. This can seem a little strange at first, but with practice it will become second-nature. Babies learn through repetition and it can take about two months of exposure to a sign for babies over six months to learn the sign and be ready to use it themselves.

Do use baby sign language when you’re shopping, playing, feeding – anywhere you get the chance. Be creative. Make it fun.

Don’t be too results-focused. Baby Sign Language is all about having fun and learning about each other. The attention and bonding you are sharing with your baby while you are signing is as important as the signing itself.

Do be patient with yourself and with baby – if you forget to sign for a day it’s OK. Start again the next day. Give yourself and baby plenty of time. Signing is worth it.

Don’t expect too much from her too soon. Have fun and enjoy signing, making it a part of your day. Remember, it can take at least two months of exposure to, and repetition of, a sign for a baby to learn it properly.

Do encourage all efforts enthusiastically! Don’t worry if your baby hasn’t got a sign quite ‘right’. Give plenty of praise, attention and eye-contact to show her you are impressed with her efforts. When you and baby are ready you can move on to another group of signs. Encourage all the way.

1 comment:

  1. I use baby sign language with my 13 month old and highly recommend it. He signs over 30 signs regularly and speaks a number of words as well. I absolutely love being able to communicate so well with my pre-verbal toddler!

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