Even before your baby says his first words, he gets the gist of what everyone is saying, and by the time he's about 8 months old he should have the motor skills needed to learn basic sign language. Yes, we know, right now it seems he thinks his hands are best used for sticking in his mouth, or for dropping the sippy cup from the high chair, but think about when he waves bye-bye or points at different objects in the room. Baby sign language is within his reach and it can help him communicate with you now, before he starts talking. Signs can be super helpful when you want to know if your baby is hungry or if you want to get an early start on potty training. Researchers also say baby sign language can help strengthen the bond between parent and child, and reduce temper tantrums. Plus, studies suggest that babies who are exposed to signing early have bigger vocabularies earlier, and signing as an infant may lead to higher IQs. So what are you waiting for? Get started with ten common baby signs from BabySignLanguage.com.
Whether you want to know if your baby is all done with dinner or all done on the potty, we bet you’ll get a lot of use out of this sign. To start teaching this sign, do it in front of your baby when mealtime is over, before you take him out of his high chair.
If your little one isn’t “all done” and he wants more food or more hugs or more books, try this sign. You should also remember that more is always better when learning baby sign language. You’ll need to expose your tot to the signs again and again before they catch on, so be sure to stick to with it and remember repetition is key. It will probably take your baby about 2 months before he starts signing.
If your baby learns the sign for “hungry,” you might be able to avoid a few fussy moments spurred by a grumbling tummy. But remember, your little one might not be the best audience for learning sign language when she is hungry. The best way to learn is to make it fun. Be sure to include lots of smiles when signing to Baby and you’ll likely get smiles and giggles in return, along with a few imitation signs back of course.
Like hungry, the sign for “milk” can help your baby tell you what she wants and needs. This sign, which looks like milking a cow, can be tough for tots, but any squeezing and relaxing motion is probably their way of signing milk. Sometimes, baby sign language requires a little interpretation and flexibility, but you’ll start to see your baby’s version of each sign as she learns. As your baby continues to practice and develop fine motor skills, you’ll see the signs become more precise and textbook.
Show your baby how to tell you he’s tired and ready for a nap with the sign for “sleep.” Repeat this sign each time you put your little one down for a nap or at bedtime until he begins to associate the two. Before he actually understands what the sign means, he’ll probably start imitating you. So don’t be surprised if your baby begins to make signs before he understands them.
The sign for “book,” which is similar to opening a book, is a good way to have your baby ask for storytime. Don’t expect your baby to communicate with signs right away though, first she’ll learn to imitate the signs, and then she’ll begin to associate the signs with their meaning, before finally she figures out that these wacky hand gestures are actually useful for getting what she wants and needs.
From a tasty meal to being happy riding in her stroller, “good” will let your baby sign how she’s feeling. When you teach signs that have a positive connotation, say the word aloud in a positive tone to help convey the meaning.
Ready to ditch those diapers? Maybe your baby is too. Try teaching the baby sign language sign for “potty” early and you may be able to conquer potty training even before he becomes an avid talker. Teach your child to make this sign when they need to go and be sure to deliver by bringing them to the potty each time. The signs for “more,” “all done,” and “good” will also come in handy for potty training.
Daddy and mommy are often two of the first words babies speak, so make them a part of their beginner baby sign language vocabulary, too. Every time daddy comes home, you can do the sign for “daddy.” And Daddy can make the sign when he enters the room as well.
The sign for “mommy” is the same as the sign for “daddy.” And in the same way as you teach your tot “daddy,” you can do this sign every time you approach your little one, and Daddy can make the sign to say hello to you when you come home.