When to Start Teaching Your Baby Sign Language
At a basic level, it is natural for babies from as young as six months old to communicate their needs and wants through expressions, gestures and babbling. While this may seem like a step one in a baby learning language, the truth is, sign language is an incredibly important step to take. By introducing baby sign language to your child, you can provide them with an incredible advantage when it comes to early communication.
Sign language is a powerful tool, as it provides an additional medium for babies and toddlers to utilize in order to express themselves. Babies cannot accurately articulate their wants in the same way that older children and adults can. Sign language helps bridge this gap, enabling them to use signs to communicate their needs and desires. This is a skill that can be very useful for both parents and the babies. When babies are able to express themselves using signs, it allows them to gain a greater sense of control and understanding over their environment. It’s a tool that can help babies learn and grow, and it can offer a sense of security.
When is the best time to start teaching your baby sign language?
A common question I get is “When should I start signing with my baby?” The experts once said that six months was the ideal time to start signing with babies. However, after years of research we have now found that you can start signing as soon as they are born. It was once thought that babies wouldn’t sign before the age of six months so that was a perfect time to start. What we are now seeing is that babies are able to recognize signs before the age of six months and some will actually start signing at the six month mark. See this video of my son signing ‘milk’ at six months.
I started signing with both my children when they were 4 months because with both children I was in a newborn haze for the first 4 months and did nothing but watch ‘baby TV’ as we called it. My son started signing back at six months, my daughter at nine and a half. At eleven moths both of them had a signing explosion.
It all depends on your personality
What MY answer to this question is, “It depends on your personality.” And what I mean by that is this, if you are the type of person that needs ‘instant gratification’ then I would wait until your baby was between six-nine months to start signing. If you know that you would give up if your child didn’t sign back within a few weeks then I’d wait a while. This is the number two mistake parents make when signing with their babies, they give up too soon! The number one mistake is being consistent. Check my next blog post where I’ll talk about how to sign and being consistent.
On the other hand, if you are the type of person who really wants to sign and will be committed to doing it until your baby signs back then start whenever you are out of that newborn haze! There is no time too soon or too late. If you have a 17 month old baby who isn’t talking much then introduce signs, it’s not too late! Children love sign language, even older children. If you have an older child you can sign the alphabet with him or her. It’s a fun way to introduce a new language!
Keep it fun and engaging
When it comes to teaching your baby sign language, it is important that you keep the process fun and engaging. An easy way to do this is by signing while you speak. For instance, if you are telling your child a story, you can sign each word or phrase as you go. You can also incorporate sign language into everyday activities like dressing or feeding. You can also introduce a few basic signs to encourage them to use sign language more often.
It’s important to remember that a baby’s progress will depend largely on their individual abilities, so don’t push too hard. Introduce the signs slowly and gradually and be patient. Most importantly, have fun!
Sign language provides babies with a useful tool to express their wants and needs. When teaching sign language, it’s important to start early and often and to keep the process enjoyable so that your child can feel comfortable and confident in their learning process. With the right approach, teaching your baby sign language can be an incredibly rewarding and useful skill.