Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language is a hot new parenting trend, which benefits not only children, but parents too. Read tips and advice from our expert Emily Manning
As you and your baby spend more time together, you will soon learn how to decipher his or her cries. But as he or she gets a bit older, before actual talking is mastered, you might find it hard to truly understand your child’s exact needs or wants. Introducing some early baby signs can help eliminate much of the guesswork and frustration for both of you during this time.
Being able to communicate with your infant or toddler before they can speak is an exhilarating feeling. This pre-verbal communication means that from approximately six months of age, your baby can signal to you what he or she wants. Some of these basic first signs are for words like 'sleep', 'milk', 'hungry', 'more' and 'all gone'. The success of baby signing is due in part to the fact that babies’ gross motor skills, such as control over their hands, is naturally developed before their ability to speak. Now a norm for many US parents, baby signing is growing in popularity in Ireland, with classes popping up all over the country. These classes tend to twin signing with singing, using well-known songs and rhymes to teach children new signs. As you start, you will introduce just one or two signs to your baby, gradually increasing the signs as they respond and, excitingly, start to sign back.
While some parents are concerned that teaching signs might in some way inhibit speech, the opposite is actually thought to be the case. As you sign with your child, you are advised to speak the word at the same time, thereby linking the vocal and visual together. Repetition is key, as it allows your child to recognise the significance of a sign that he can then use for himself. Now just imagine your toddler signing "I’m off to bed"...ah, if only
Have you done baby sign language with your little one? Would you recommend it to other moms? Leave a comment below to let us know!