Infant sign language can be a great communication tool for developing babies. Teaching your baby infant sign language can give them the tools to communicate what they want and need, while also providing a bonding opportunity for parent and child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies can start signing as soon as 8 or 9 months — long before they can talk. If you’re interested in teaching your child infant sign language, here are some tips to get started.
Keep signs simple
Start with simple signs that are useful to your child. Signs like “more,” “eat,” and “mother” and “father” are relevant signs that accompany your child’s routine and activities. The Mayo Clinic suggests adding informal hand gestures to accompany nursery rhymes or songs in addition to teaching your baby formal signs.
2. Share signs with others
Share the signs you’re teaching your child with their other caregivers so that everyone who’s around your baby can communicate effectively with them. And if it’s a caregiver who’s teaching the signs, get them to fill you in!
3. Use your words
Don’t replace speaking with signing. Make sure you keep talking with your child so they learn to communicate with their mouths just as well as with their hands!
4. Make the learning process interactive and engaging
Hold your baby’s arms and make signs while they’re in your lap with their back to your stomach, the Mayo Clinic suggests. This helps make the learning process a fun bonding activity. They also suggest signing during activities like bathing, feeding and reading to give signs context.
5. Have patience
All learning curves are different, so patience is key. Keep your expectations realistic and try not to feel discouraged if your baby doesn’t take to the signs right away. Remember, the goal is to improve communication between you and your baby — not for them to be perfect signers.
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