Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Sign Language: Advice from the Expert

Happy Monday Mamas! I have a special treat today - a guest post from Misty Weaver, the Chief Editor of I've been trying to teach Paige baby sign language since birth without much luck. I asked Misty what I may be doing wrong, and how to get the ball rolling in a more productive way... And here is her advice!! Enjoy!

How To Get Started With Baby Sign Language And What Signs Should You Teach First
When you are first starting with Baby Sign Language it’s best to begin with signs you can use every day, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. Signs that represent something exciting and meaningful to baby will be easier to learn. Begin with these starter signs then build up your range to include other objects, ideas and emotions.

How To Get Started With Baby Sign Language
First of all, you need to remember to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby. It’s important to say the word that goes with the sign clearly, using good eye-contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Sign when your baby is alert and not fussing. Remember to practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident and clear about what you are doing.

What Signs Should You Teach First And How?

Start with these signs: Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. These signs are simple to learn and are really interesting to your baby. To sign Mommy extend and spread apart your fingers. With your little finger facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin.

  • To sign Daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand. Tap your hand on your forehead. Done right you will look like a turkey.

  • The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat. You will notice most babies have trouble moving their fingers together this way, but any kind of repeated squeezing and relaxing of the hand is likely Milk.

  • To make the sign for More, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly. Baby will often simplify More by clapping their fists together. As they get older and more proficient you may want to encourage the more correct sign of flattening out their hands and creating the O shape with their thumbs as a fun way to help them develop fine motor skills.

Repetition is the key to Baby Sign Language . When you first start, be sure to make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. Soon this will become second-nature. Your baby will learn the signs through repetition and constant exposure.

Be Patient
Don’t expect too much too soon – from your baby or from yourself. If you forget to sign for a day it’s doesn’t matter – just begin again with renewed effort. Have realistic expectations. Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language, found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at seven months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.