How To Begin Signing With Your Baby

When to start

Start with a few signs

Say the word whenever you sign

Repeat both the sign and the word often

Make signs a part of your daily routine

Getting your baby’s attention

Point to or hold the object that represents the word you are teaching

Wait for your baby to respond

Make signs on your baby’s body

Help your baby make the sign

Ask for your baby to sign

Always sign the correct sign

Signing with one hand

Share books with your baby

Recognize and respond to your baby’s signs

Above all be patient, offer a great deal of praise and make learning fun


How to Begin Signing with Your Baby

Repeat both the sign and the word often
Repetition is the key to success with signing as it is for speaking. The more times during a day you repeat the sign and the word, the sooner your baby will realize the connection between the sign and the object or action and begin signing back to you. You may want to make the sign before, during and after a given activity. For example:

"Do you want more cereal?" Make the sign for more.

"Here is more cereal." Make the sign for more and give her more cereal.

"Now you have more cereal." Make the sign for more.

Signing helps your baby identify one word out of a seemingly endless stream of sounds. By signing with your baby you are clearly marking the word that you are teaching and helping your baby to separate that one word from all the other words in the sentence. In addition, you are giving her valuable examples of the syntax of language by offering and marking the same symbol as it occurs in many distinct positions in many different sentences representing one unvarying object or action.

Make signs a part of your daily routine
The more you include signing in your daily routine the sooner your baby will begin to sign with you. You may want to pick three of your baby's favorite animals and then place toys and pictures of the animals in places that you frequent each day.

For example, a rattle with a dog on it at your baby's changing table, a bottle with a picture of a duck on it, a stuffed animal bear in your baby's crib, a book about dogs, a rubber duck to play with in the bath tub, and a bear toy to entertain your baby while she is eating. In addition, the signs for the words more, eat and drink, are good signs to use during mealtimes.

You can reinforce the signs for these favorite animals while saying nursery rhymes or while sings songs. A good song to sing while making your baby's favorite animal signs is "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." You can also spend time reading and looking at books that include these same animals. In fact, babies who talk with their hands at an early age seem to have a greater interest in books that their non-signing peers.


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