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Fingers Can Speak a Lot: The Most Important Tool in Baby Sign Language

By Charles Hopkins Published 11/2/2006 | Parenting

It is utterly frustrating for the parents to look on as their child throws all kinds of tantrums because they just cannot figure out what the child actually needs! Generations after generations, parents had managed to pull through by what is commonly known as parental instinct, along with little bit of common sense. But the parents of 21st century are not content with only that! They want to brush their parenting method with perfection and queue up in thousands for taking part in the programs and workshops to master the art of the new age means of communication: baby signing.

Now what is baby signing all about? It is basically a technique of communication. American child development researcher Joseph Garcia pioneered the original concept. He for the first time showed to the world that hearing children as young as six months are actually able to use simple symbols and gestures to communicate their basic needs and share their emotions with their parents. This language will enable you to differentiate your childs desire for playing or sleeping. It will also help you to understand when your baby wants milk and when he simply wants to drink some water. This language will also help you to share his delight when he sees an airplane flying over the sky.

You have every right to ask, how baby signing language works to open up the channel of communication between you and your child. It is a proven fact that babies as young as six weeks old can learn how to sign. On the one hand the babies can understand the language spoken in their environment from an early infancy. On the other hand their motor skills or the power to manipulate hands and fingers develop long before their vocal chords mature enough to make them able to speak!

These two factors empower the babies to pick up the signing skills at an early stage.  Above all, babies just love to repeat what you perform before them. So you will find your baby waving at you from as early an age as seven months. This is a gesture he has picked up quite naturally, so you can understand what wonder he can make with a little training!

The baby signing language helps stretch your babys signing vocabulary! Teaching your baby signing language is nothing but taking this process a step further. It was all started by the initiatives of child development expert Joseph Garcia. His close association with deaf community helped him to find out how swiftly the hearing babies of deaf parents picked up sign language. Another important thing that he noticed was that these children were considerably more manageable than babies who didn't know sign language. This was attributed to the communication skill of the first group of children who could express their thoughts and needs more easily.

This led Garcia to pioneer the idea of introducing the normal children of   hearing parents too into the world of signing. In an environment, where a baby does not have to scream every time he wants something, the growing up of the baby as well as the parenting experience of the parents----both become completely peaceful.

Now comes the most critical question as to how to make it possible! Here are some easy tips to try with your fingers to teach your baby sign language.

  • First of all set your goal; you have to teach your baby certain gestures with hands and fingers that signifies the word you are teaching.
  • For that you have to choose appropriate signs. There are many standard sign languages to choose from like ASL or BSL. There are also many more languages specially designed for the babies.
  • You can also work out your own sign language with your baby. Just keep in mind that the sign you are making must mimic the meaning of the word properly.
  • As for example, you can teach your child to simply put his finger on his mouth when he feels hungry. Or cross the arms on the chest and flap your fingers several times to mean doggy or kitty.
  • You can start with   a sign for something your baby is really interested in like the ceiling fan overhead or the light etc.
  • Finally, any innovative finger gesture will prove to be communicative if   it is natural, simple to perform, and you as well as the other family members use it with your baby at a consistent basis.