Thursday, May 21, 2009

Signing for Little Ones

Courtesy of

Activity for: Babies & Parents

Help your baby communicate her needs before she is able to talk.

If you feel exasperated listening to your baby cry, think about how frustrated she must feel not being able to tell you what's the matter! Teaching your child sign language can help her communicate her needs without her having to turn on the tears. There are lots of information & graphics on the internet about signing for babies. Before you sign up for a formal course -- or invest in books on the subject -- get your feet wet with these simple techniques.

Select two to three words or phrases that express a request such as: "more," "yes," "no," "bye-bye," "I'm hungry," or "I'm thirsty." Perform a simple hand sign every time you say the corresponding word. For example, move your hands like lobster claws when you say the word "more."

Or point to your mouth when you say, "I'm hungry." The point is to choose a sign that is easy for your child to imitate and remember. Once your child has these signs down, you can build up her vocabulary by adding a few more words at a time. You don’t even have to follow any specific signs, just try and make up some of your own.

But of course, don’t expect your baby to start signing back to you immediately. They need to understand that the signs mean something. Also they also need to be able to imitate the sign you make, which requires some eye and hand coordination. Teaching a baby to sign is a slow process which requires patience, consistency and a lot of repetitions. It’s so easy to lose heart and abandon all when you don’t see any respond from your child. Just think of it as something fun and make it a part of your daily routine, you won’t even notice you’re signing. Your baby will sign back when she’s good and ready.

I’ve heard of some parents’ concerns such as, if you teach your children to sign, they might be reluctant to talk because they can pass the message without uttering a word. Research has proven otherwise, that signing babies talk and read quicker than their non signing counterparts and more calm and relaxed, because they communicate better.

My daughter has one sign down pat i.e. milk, where she opens and closes her fingers into her palm to make a fist. Other than that, she also has goodbye, water and fish in the bag. We are trying to reinforce more basic words with her such as drink, eat, I love you and thank you. The day she signs back, “I love you” back to me, I’ll let you know!

Here’s some websites for your further reading (or you can just Google “baby signing”):

Just for you to kick off your own baby signing, print out this cheat sheet and tape it to your fridge. (from

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails