Did you know that the average baby knows what they want to say around 7 months old, but isn’t developmentally ready or able to do so? That’s why parents around the world have turned to baby sign. They notice that their babies are no longer throwing tantrums and are less demanding because they are able to express and get what they want or need. Read on to learn about baby sign and how you can teach your baby to communicate today!
What is baby sign?
When many people hear the term, “baby sign,” they think about the movie Meet the Fockers, where Jack’s grandson expresses himself (humorously) with his hands. Baby sign is not like full blown sign language. Instead, it’s a simpler way to communicate using very basic pointing techniques and basic finger and hand movements to express the basic wants and needs – milk, food, sleep, toy, etc.
What are the benefits?
Many scientists believe that babies who learn to sign before they begin to speak are stronger communicators than non-signers and have an overall higher IQ. They also believe that they develop and acquire new words faster than other babies. Plus, it’s pretty neat when you can have a full blown conversation with your little one, rather than it being you the one who constantly communicates.
Who can do it?
Anyone can teach their baby gestures, facial cues, and basic hand manipulations. Even some celebrities have jumped on the sign band wagon. Star moms like Debra Messing, Nicole Kidman, and Kristen Bell all are big fans of the communication strategy.
Are there any drawbacks?
A lot of parents worry that teaching their child to sign will slow down their speech development. Some scientists have done studies to try and disprove this theory. They have concluded that signing may help your baby add new words to their overall vocabulary and will not replace oral language when they are ready and able to speak.
How do I get started?
The most important thing for you to do whenever teaching a sign command is to make sure you have your baby’s full attention and that they are looking at you. You need to use the word you are replacing with the motion simultaneously with your hands. Your baby will pick up simple gestures quickly like waving hello or goodbye, clapping, pointing, or nodding, but it may take them more time to sign words like more, bottle, banana, change, and please.
Once you feel like your baby is ready (around 6 months of age), check out some books that teach basic commands. The ones you may want to most start with are:
Hold your hands open, palms facing towards your body, with one in front of the other. Move the hand in front forward a short distance.
Put your fingertips to your lips.
- All gone
Move your hand, palm up, backwards and forwards.
Draw an exaggerated smile over your mouth with your finger, while smiling.
Put your hand out and withdraw it quickly.
Shrug your shoulders, with your palms held out.
Wrinkle up your nose or hold up two fingers.
Steer an imaginary wheel.
Hold your hands flat with your palms up.
You will be amazed at how quickly your little one picks up on these basic signs. You’ll also be so proud and in awe when they begin to try to communicate with you. It may take a few weeks to a few months to work, but once they understand the concept, you will notice a huge difference in their behavior!