Communication development is critical for a child from birth, and throughout their childhood. It is essential to be able to speak to your child for the child to learn language auditorily. Although auditory information is one of the most crucial parts of language development, the baby is only receiving information, but not able to express information that was collected. How is the baby able to communicate expressively, other than crying, or screaming? I couldn’t think of any better way than to communicate with your baby other than using baby sign language. When my baby started vocalizing his wants and needs through tears and sometimes screams, some of the time I understood what my child is trying to express. However, I thought to myself, why not teach my baby sign language? Not only it will help develop his communication skills, but I can also get a better idea of what his needs are.
Baby Sign Langauge
What exactly is baby sign language? Baby sign language is the utilization of hands to create signs which would help babies communicate their wants, needs, feelings, as well as describing items before the child uses spoken language. It is best to use sign language in conjunction with verbal or spoken communication to help develop the baby’s communication and language skills. Signing and talking to your baby at the same time could also help with the development of visual and auditory skills. For those who’s baby is Deaf/HOH or in a family with Deaf/HOH individuals, sign language is the way to go to jumpstart the baby’s communication skills and language development. Baby sign language could also create a special bond between a parent and their baby.
When a baby is born, he or she can mimic sounds from spoken words. However, as the baby is growing, their ability to mimic sounds tends to fade away as the baby is beginning to focus more on the phonetic form of spoken language that is used at home. When the child turns around ten months old, he or she starts to focus more on expanding their vocabulary. It is important to make it your target to reveal to your baby to all manner of phonetic variation through speech and even music! In conjunction with spoken language, utilize baby sign language to serve as a relation between the two languages. For example, in my home, my husband and I would sing simple and easy songs and utilize baby sign language at the same time. We are also personally making American Sign Language as our second language of choice for our baby.
Babies at that age are at a milestone in which they may be expressing themselves through a form of gestures. Gestures can include: pointing to things or objects with the use of their finger or hands. Even raising hands or arms up signaling that he or she wants to be picked up, or breaking eye contact to look away if he or she just want to play with toys alone, or have had enough of stimulation. Sometimes it’s not easy to determine what the baby’s wants or needs are through body gestures. However, by teaching your baby sign language, this may help your baby better communicate to you with the combination of gestures and signs!
Early Learning and Consistency
As previously stated, it is important that you start sign language early with your child. The earlier the child is exposed to sign language, the faster he or she will begin to understand and learn the language. It is also important that you continue to be consistent with your child when utilizing baby sign language. When you’re consistent with exposing your child to sign language, he or she may have a strong foundation in developing strong language, speech, and communication skills.
Baby Sign Language Resources
There are many different resources available to teach your baby sign language. There are flash cards that showed pictures of the signs and detailed description on how to create those signs for each word. There are also comprehensive and creative looking sign language charts that illustrate the sign language alphabets and well as popular sign language words. There are also sign language videos available for those who would like a little more hands-on experience with sign language. There are sign language courses that are available in your community if you’re interested in learning more in person.
There are also online programs available for parents and guardians who are interested in teaching their baby sign language. If you wish to research sign language books or read and sign to your baby with book reading, it is highly recommended to check out the following books:
- Teach Your Baby to Sign
- My First Book Of Sign Language
- Baby Sign Language Official Reference Dictionary
Personal Experience with Baby Sign Language
I am currently teaching my baby basic signs such as “Mama,” “Dada,” “Milk,” “Eat,” “More,” “Sleep,” “Bye Bye,” and “Kiss Kiss.” I started signing to my baby as early as four months. My baby is now nine months old. He is currently recognizing and understand the signs that were signed by him. He would react verbally to the signs that he would recognize. When he recognizes signs such as “milk” and “Mama,” he would lit up with a smile and cheerful glee! I believe that my baby understands those signs. Currently, my baby can sign “Milk,” “Mama,” “Dada,” “More,” “All done,” and “Bye Bye.” It is incredible to watch my baby grow and develop language! Also, check out my video demonstration of the different signs by clicking on the bold words.
Enjoy and Happy Signing!