Thanks to Misty Weaver from Baby Sign Language for this guest post. Her informative site offers free printable flash cards like the ones shown below; a baby sign language dictionary; blog; and more!
Getting Started With Signing And Some Do's And Do Not's
To make a start with baby sign language you need to learn some basic signs. Signs which represent things that are interesting for your baby will be easier for him or her to learn to when you first begin. The sooner you start signing to your baby, the sooner he will begin to communicate back. You can start at any time, even from birth. When you have mastered your first few signs you can build up your repertoire, increasing your signing vocabulary.
To get started you must learn the signs yourself. Four great signs to start with are:
- MOMMY: To make the sign for Mommy, extend and spread your fingers apart on your right hand. With your little finger facing forwards, tap your thumb on your chin. Mommy.
- DADDY: To make the sign for Daddy, extend and spread out the fingers on your right hand, then tap your hand on your forehead with your thumb. This is similar to the sign for Mommy but done higher up the head. Daddy.
- MILK: The sign for Milk is a lot like the action of milking a cow without the up and down motion. Just pretend you are just squeezing the cow’s udder. Make both hands into a fist, relax and repeat. Milk.
- MORE: To make the sign for More, make an O shape with each hand by meeting your fingers and thumbs. Bring your hands together and separate them a few times. More.
It’s important to say the word that goes with the sign while pointing to the object you are signing. If the item or object is not present you can use Baby Sign Language Flash Cards to help. Say the word and make the sign every time you encounter that object. Keep good eye-contact and a positive tone of voice. Make it fun.
When your baby has mastered her first signs you can begin to introduce new ones. Stick to groups of similar ideas or objects when introducing new signs, for example food, colors, or emotions. Remember: repeat, repeat, repeat. Only introduce a few new signs at a time, and continue with these for around two months.
- Do sign when your baby is alert, using something which is exciting to her, such as Milk or Mommy.
- Do practice as often as you can. Once you have learned a sign, you should make this sign every time you say the word or do the action with your baby. It is important to say the word clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Be consistent.
- Do use Sign Language For Babies when you’re shopping, playing, feeding and reading with your baby. Be creative and make it fun.
- Do be patient with yourself and with your baby. If you forget to sign for a day it’s fine to start again the next day. Give yourself and baby plenty of time. Signing is worth it.
- Don’t forget the importance of repetition. It’s important to make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. 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.
- Don’t be too results-focused.
Teaching Baby Sign Language is about having fun and learning about each other. The attention and bonding you share with your baby while you are signing is as important as signing itself.
- Don’t expect too much 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.