Sorry In Sign Language And 7 Essential First Baby Signs

One of the best things you can do as a parent for your baby is to teach them sign language. Babies can understand and communicate before they are verbally able to communicate with you. By teaching some basic sign language, you can communicate with your child which can increase their self-esteem and lessen frustration.

Why you should teach your baby sign language

So why on earth would you want to teach a baby sign language?

The capabilities to communicate through sign developed much earlier than the capabilities to communicate through speech. What does this mean? Your baby can be communicating with you months before they can start forming the words to tell you what they need…therefore, reducing temper tantrums from frustration. (SCORE!!)

Even when baby begins forming words, they may not be able to form as many words or the right words that they need to get a point across to you.

So-called “late talkers” can be helped immensely by learning sign. Once they figure out that a sign communicates something for them, they eventually begin using the word with the sign, then drop the sign altogether and simply say what they need. It can be a great stairstep to help their communication.

From personal experience, my husband and I would sit there trying to guess what our little girl could possibly need as she would be crying her eyes out. She had been changed, fed, napped, and played with. We introduced signs to her and within a month or two, she was able to tell us “more food, please” “milk, please” “all done” “play” and more!

Instead of having a meltdown, she would literally sign to us exactly what she needed. If that, in itself, is not enough reason to give it a go, I don’t know what is.

Baby sign language has been proven to have great benefits later on such as a higher IQ, better grades, and a larger vocabulary! Ivy Leagues, here we come!

When to teach your baby sign language

It is never too early or too late. Developmentally, babies can be aware of sign by 4 months of age…this does not mean your baby that cannot even sit up yet will start signing back to you.

This is a great time for YOU to get used to the signs and begin associating the signs with the words. Not only will you associate the word and sign, but the baby also can too. They may not have the fine motor skills to mimic you until 6 to 8 months, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t watching!

We really started enforcing signs around 12 months and our baby has picked them up like wildfire!

How do I learn baby sign language?

There are books you can purchase to help you learn to sign with your baby, and I have included a few free video clips that show various sign language gestures. Babies can be taught as young as six months, and it can enhance your knowledge of how your baby is feeling and what they want as well as increase the non-verbal bond.
The resources in my personal arsenal are:

  • Baby Sign Language Made Easy: 101 Signs to Start Communicating with Your Child Now
  • Sign and Sing-Along: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Board book
  • Hooked on Baby Learn to Sign Deluxe – From the makers of Hooked on Phonics®
  • Visit American Sign Language (ASL) on Facebook, it’s a fantastic group.
  • We Love Sign Language on Facebook.
  • Love Sign Language, also on Facebook.

How to teach your baby sign language

Start slow. Trying to teach a baby 50 signs all in one day will be far too overwhelming for everyone involved.

Start with 3 or 4 that will be useful to you like, “milk” “more” “food” or “all done”. Once they master a few, try introducing two or three more. Get ready to repeat, repeat, repeat.

  1.  Implement it into your conversations with them. When you say one of these words, use the sign as you say it. “Are you all done with your food?”
  2.  Sit down with the baby and say the word while doing the sign. Make sure the baby is focused on you. Take their hands and help them form the sign. Say the word while you help them do the sign.
  3. You say the word and do the sign and have them try the sign on their own. They may have a quirk or two that needs fixing which you can help them with.
  4. Try saying the word and see if the baby can recognize the word and can do the sign. If they don’t try right away, use the word in a sentence then go back. “Do you want some milk?” “Can you show me milk?”
  5. I like to go the extra mile. When my little one uses a sign on her own, I say the word and do the sign to let her know that I understand her.

This is especially if I can’t get her what she wants right away. If we’re on the car ride home and she signs “milk“, I’ll say and sign “milk” back and then let her know she can have it as soon as we get home. Eliminating emotional breakdowns in the car? SCORE AGAIN!

What signs should you teach your baby?

Common first signs include:

  • Milk
  • Eat
  • Hurt
  • More
  • Please
  • Sleep
  • Sorry
  • Thank you

There will be a magical moment when your baby will start signing without a verbal cue. They will stop what they’re doing, look at you and sign something that they want… communication and no meltdown! By teaching these common signs, you can communicate with them. Before six months, start using these signs when you talk to your baby, and before long, they will respond with the signs.

Milk

For example, a squeezing motion is the sign for milk. Each time you nurse your baby or feed them a bottle, ask if they would like milk and do the sign for milk. Before you know it, your baby will be reaching up and squeezing their hands in the same motion when they are asking for a drink.

Eat

Hurt

The hurt sign is particularly helpful. If something hurts, point to the sore spot on the body and do the sign for hurt which is to gently touch index fingers together. Often, babies will have pain that they cannot describe, and as a parent, it can be frustrating to see your child crying and not know what is wrong. On a Canadian talk show, there was a segment done on baby sign language that interviewed a mother with an eight-month-old baby who was doing the sign for “hurt” and pointing to his ear. Sure enough, a visit to the doctor revealed an ear infection.

More

There was a day that my daughter was playing and drinking from her sippy cup, she suddenly stopped, looked at me, and signed “more, please”…her cup was empty…she asked for more water without crying until I figured it out! Success!

Please

Sleep

Sorry

Thank You

Will baby sign language delay my child’s speech skills?

A concern from those hearing about sign language with hearing babies is that they are worried the baby won’t feel the need to communicate verbally. This isn’t so. When you sign with your baby, use the verbal word as you sign.

Sign language can be something you also use in later childhood years as well. In a noisy room, you can also communicate with your children when they need to be reprimanded for something with sign language gestures such as “Stop” or “Danger.”

I have done sign language with my child and our whole family still uses a few of the signs regularly. Sign language was extremely helpful before my child turned two years old and he developed an extensive vocabulary at an early age. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them, and if you are a Mom or Dad who has used baby signing, I’d love to hear what other signs you found useful for your baby.

If you are aware of any other resources that I should let my readers know about, please leave them in the comment section below.

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