A lot of people have a common misconception about sign language. They think that this silent language is only for hearing- and speech-impaired individuals. However, there is also a new emerging trend in sign language that of baby sign language.
What is Baby Sign Language?
Much like the sign language used by hearing-impaired individuals, baby sign language makes use of signs and symbols to communicate effectively with a baby. During a baby’s early months, he is unable to convey his needs through verbal communication. In order to get what he needs, he cries to get your attention. However, if you teach him baby sign language, the tendency for your baby to cry and throw tantrums will be lessened.
There’s always a best time to start teaching your baby sign language. As a parent, you should be able to notice this. At the age of 6 months onwards, your baby becomes more aware of his environment. He begins making gibberish sounds, points at things and starts to identify people he sees often. When you notice these developments, then you can start teaching him.
Basic Signs and Symbols to Teach Your Baby
Teaching baby sign language is not just some random act. You have to make sure that you only teach your baby the basic signs first to ensure that he learns fast and he enjoys learning the sign language. Do not overwhelm him with too many signs in one lesson or else, the baby would be stressed and throw tantrums. Start with the basic needs, here are the first few signs to start with:
• Milk – this is the baby’s primary need. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding him, teach him how to sign for this. Associate the sign with the object. For example, when you bottle feed him, point to the milk bottle and make the sign of milk too.
• Eat – when your baby is at an age when he starts to eat, the “eat” symbol needs to be introduced. Although the baby may already unconsciously make eating symbols, show him the proper way to do it.
• More – sometimes, even after you have fed your baby, he still seems to cry or scream. Maybe this is because he still wants more milk or food. To solve this problem teach him the sign for “more”.
An effective approach to baby sign language is mouthing the words while signing the symbol. Your baby will not only try to imitate the sign you’re making, but he’ll also look at your mouth and try to speak the words too.