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Baby Sign Language: Tips for Getting Started

By Charles Hopkins Published 11/2/2006 | Kids & Teens

So you were walking on cloud nine all through your pregnancy period and secretly planning about the fun days ahead with your baby.

But all of your dreams came to a shattering end as you found the process of child rearing far too stressful than you had actually imagined. The things get worse when the little one starts crying and it nearly tears you out of your nerves to work out what the little thing actually wants!

Just imagine how wonderful it would be if the baby would ask for more milk instead of letting loose the siren of his voice, or how wonderful it would be if only the baby could let you know that he needs a diaper change whenever he feels irritation on his bottom!

Unbelievable as it may sound, but it is not impossible. Your baby can talk to you about his little discomforts and small delights with a special kind of language; this is the language of baby signs.

Here is a guide to help you find your starting point:

  • If you yourself are not trained in any kind of sign language, the first thing you need to do is to learn it yourself. But how and where would you learn from?
  • Internet provides you the most convenient resource for signing language. Search with the keyword, baby signing language dictionary and a number of helpful sites will pop up immediately; download the one that seems simple enough to teach your child. These dictionaries are provided with the colored photos along with the word, so that you can easily teach them to your child in turn.
  • After you have located a suitable site, make a list of the words whose corresponding signs you want to teach your child.
  • You will see that there are different types of words and all of them can be divided into two broad categories: Need based words and motivating words.
  • The four basic words like; eat, drink, milk and more are need-based words. These words will help your child to make request with all these words. Once your baby becomes familiar with the signs of these words, then you can switch to more need based words like sleep, hot/cold, diaper change etc. But when starting, stick to the first basic need based words mentioned above.
  • Then there are those highly motivating words like play, teddy bear, kitty, or doggy and so on. These are the actions or object that interest and excite your child considerably to the point of fascination.
  • Now the rule is: train your child in the signs of need-based words. But also sprinkle the motivating words in between them; this will make his learning procedure more interesting.
  • However, teaching sign language is a prolonged process that requires enough patience on your part. You have to introduce the child to a single word at a time. As long as the child is not responding adequately, do not move to the next sign. You can start with any one of the four above mentioned need based words.
  • Remember, while you are teaching your baby the sign language, you need to be contextual. That means you have to use the sign as well as speak it out loud as you are taking up a relevant activity. For example, teach the sign of milk only when the baby drinks milk and not at the time when the baby is drinking water. But, repeat the word, drink, every time the baby drinks anything ranging from water to juice.

Follow the above-mentioned tips to kick-start your babys sign language training orientation and make researches along side to learn about the next steps for the following levels.