Sunday, August 22, 2010

Guest Post: 4 Steps to Get You Started with Baby Sign Language

As you all may or may not know, when I first started my career as a teacher I worked at a school for deaf and hard of hearing children. I was put into a full communication classroom, which basically means that we were encouraged to speak and sign. I didn't know any sign language going into this situation, but quickly started to pick some of the basics up. Sign language became really interesting to me so I continued to learn and now know quite a bit.

I have been using sign language with my daughter since she was about 6 months old. She knows some of the basics; more, water, finished and words like that. I have found it to be very helpful in communicating with her. But I am certainly not an expert and would love to learn more about Baby Sign Language. So when I was approached by Misty Weaver, Chief Editor of Baby Sign Language, about having a guest post on my blog I was thrilled!

Here is a great article she wrote just for Momma Drama about getting started. Thank you Misty for sharing your knowledge with us!

4 Steps to Get You Started with Baby Sign Language

#1 – Learn Milk and More.

You can’t teach your baby to sign until you know the signs, right?  Fortunately, they are easy!

To make the sign for milk:  simply pretend that you are milking a cow with your right hand.  It’s that simple!  (Never milked a cow?  Hold your right hand perpendicular to the ground and then make a fist.  Then open your fist a little bit until your fingers and thumb look like the letter “c.”  Then squeeze back into a fist again.  Repeat!  Now you’re milkin’!)

To make the sign for more:  with each hand, bring all your fingertips together, including your thumb.  Then, with your palms facing you, bring the fingertips of both hands together several times in front of your chest.

#2 – Sign Milk and More Every Time You Say Them!

Now that you have those two signs mastered, it is time to introduce them to your baby.  At first, we will not ask your baby to sign.  We will only ask you to sign!  Every single time you say the word milk, make the sign for milk.  When you say to your baby, “Would you like some milk?” make the sign.  The same goes for more.  Every time you say to your baby, “Would you like more?” make the sign.  If you want to get really fancy, you can ask your baby, “Would you like some more milk?”

#3 – Help Your Baby to Form the Sign.

When you think your baby is ready, and this will probably be weeks (or even months) after you introduce the signs, you can start to gently help your baby make the signs.  Babies can usually start to sign when they are 6-8 months old.  Follow your intuition – mothers know best.  Gently form your baby’s little hand into a fist, and then help him sign for milk while saying “milk!”  Then, be sure to give her some milk!

#4 – Win the Lotto!  (Or at Least Pretend.)

Your baby’s first attempt might well not look like the sign.  So you have to be vigilant to notice when he is trying to sign!  If he tries to sign and it doesn’t work, it might be a while before he signs again.  So, when you do see your baby trying to milk the cow and then looking at you with expectant thirst, you need to jump around and exclaim like you just won the lotto.  Be sure to shower your baby with praise and kisses.  Congratulations!  You are both on the road to a life rich with communication!

This guest post was written for Momma Drama by Baby Sign Language website. There is a ton of free information to help you and your baby start signing. Once you are a signing pro, be sure to check out the Baby Sign Language Flash Cards .
They also have a Facebook page that I'm sure you will "like"!


Show Me Mama said...

How cool is this? I love baby sign language. Whenever I take my daughter to the library I always try to select at least one book where she can learn sign language. I went to the Baby Sign Language website and was truly amazed what they have to offer. I really love the videos, which helps a lot. The flash cards are really great. Kids can actually visualize it and can do it on their own. Love it. Thanks for sharing, great information.

Mom vs. the boys said...

we've used a few basic signs with all of our boys- more, please, all done. we are working on 'help' right now with our 2 year old because he still doesn't talk much. It's a little hard for him to coordinate though. I wish some words were easier for awkward toddler stages.
great post!

Lara said...

I totally know what you mean, Mom vs. the Boys! My daughter has kind of changed every sign we've taught her. Like water she uses one finger instead of three. Some of them are tough for little ones.

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