The Only 8 Signs You Need To Teach Your Baby
Introducing a few hand signs can encourage babies to communicate, as well as improve parents ability to understand what they’re trying to say. Plus, baby sign language can cut back on frustration-related crying, which is good for everybody.
OK, is your baby saying dog? Or is it Dad? And how do you know if theyre trying to tell you they want more mashed sweet potato or want to get down from their high chair? Trying to decipher your babys first words and early communication cues can be tricky. Enter baby sign language:
What Are The Benefits Of Using Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language can be a useful communication tool for babies, and also an ideal bonding opportunity for both of you.Baby sign language gives babies and young toddlers a way to communicate before they can say their first words. This may ease some of the frustration they might feel when theyâre not able to say what they feel, want, or need yet.Knowing that your baby can convey some of those basic wants and needs through signing may take some of the guesswork out of parenting, too, as your little one will be able to tell you if sheâs hungry or cold, for example.
Baby Sign Language Words To Teach Your Little One
For new parents, communicating with your bundle of joy presents a daily puzzle that needs solving. Without the ability so speak, babies rely on crying to express their needs and emotions. One way to bridge the communication gap is through the use of baby sign language. According to Psychology Today, babies can understand language before possessing the ability to speak. At such a young age, when they have better control over their hands, it makes sense to teach them how to sign.
Mama and Daddy
What two words should she learn first that are more appropriate than the two people who care for and love her the most? Both words are similar. For mother, open your hand and tap your thumb to your chin. Father is the same open hand but the thumb tap is to the forehead.
Photosource: Flickr/Kyle Adams
Babies get their diapers changed every few hours more or less so it helps if they know how to sign diaper. Place both hands at your waist and tap your index and middle fingers to your thumb.
Letting her know it’s bath time is a good way to wind down her day and prepare for bed. Simply take both fists and simulate rubbing them up and down your chest.
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Tips For Teaching Baby Sign Language
Whether you opt for the spontaneous, do-it-yourself approach, or you want to teach your baby gestures derived from real sign languages, keep the following tips in mind.
1. You can start early.
Babies begin learning about language from the very beginning. They overhear their mothers voices in the womb, and they are capable of recognizing their mothers native language distinguishing it from a foreign language at birth.
Over the following months, their brains sort through all the language they encounter, and they start to crack the code. And by the time they are 6 months old, babies show an understanding of many everyday words like mama, bottle, and nose.
Many babies this age are also babbling repeating speech syllables like ma ma ma and ba ba ba.
If a 6-month-old baby says ba ba after you give her a bottle, could it be that shes trying to say the word bottle? If an infant sees his mother and says mama, is he calling her by name?
Its entirely possible. And as noted above, research suggests that many babies are speaking their first words by the age of 10 months.
So we might expect that babies are ready to observe and learn about signs at an early age even before they are 6 months old.
2. Introduce signs naturally, as a part of everyday conversation, and dont try to drill babies.
3. Keep in mind that its normal for babies to be less than competent. Dont pretend you cant understand your baby just because his or her signs dont match the model!
Here Are 3 Tips That Should Help You Perfect Your Signing Of ‘dad’:
- Look at the way native signers say ‘dad’: use YouGlish for that purpose. Repeat the track as much asyou need and if required, slow down the speed of the player.
- Record yourself signing ‘dad’ on camera then watch yourself. You’ll be able to mark the points of weakness in your techniques.
- Look up tutorials on YouTube on how to say ‘dad’ in Sign Language.
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What Is Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language has become pretty trendy in the past 20 yearsâyou probably know of some hit movies that have featured it!The popularity of sign language may be due in part to the fact that many babies can be taught to use their hands to “talk” sooner than they can learn speech. Of course, it will take time before your baby has the dexterity to use his hands in that way. Baby sign language may be a way for your baby to communicate starting at about 8 or 9 months old or a little later on.It’s important to know that baby sign language is different from the sign language that is used by the hearing impaired. In some cases baby sign language uses modified gestures from American Sign Language, making it similar but not the same.Keep in mind that teaching your baby sign language is optional. Itâs just one tool you could use to communicate with your little one at a time when your baby may have something to say but canât yet communicate with speech.
When Should I Start Baby Sign Language
Around six to eight months old is a great time to start teaching your baby how to sign. Babies are typically at a developmental stage where they are curious to communicate and pay more attention to things presented to them, says Steyns. But she recommends that parents gauge their own readiness, along with their babys, because signing requires learning on their part and committing to a lot of repetition of those hand signs. Some parents are eager to start when their babies are just a few months old, while others wait until their little ones are closer to a year old before they begin. Its not too late if you wait longer than a year because then they can start combining hand signs with verbal cues, she says.
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Profanity In American Sign Language
Sign languages are as expressive and systematic as spoken languages, and that includes taboo words. The video below features a host of signers demonstrating some favourite insults and profanities. It also shows how much fun swearing can be. The video is produced by Cut , but the participants and crew are not listed, at least nowhere obvious. As a beginner I found the signs unclear and too fast.
American Sign Language ASL , the sign language used by the deaf community throughout most of North America , has a rich vocabulary of terms, which include profanity. Within deaf culture, there is a distinction drawn between signs used to curse versus signs that are used to describe sexual acts. In usage, signs to describe detailed sexual behavior are highly taboo due to their graphic nature. As for the signs themselves, some signs do overlap, but they may also vary according to usage. For example, the sign for ” shit ” when used to curse is different from the sign for “shit” when used to describe the bodily function or the fecal matter. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
Our Nonverbal Cues Can Help Babies Learn Language
Imagine I stranded you in the middle of a remote, isolated nation. You dont speak the local language, and the locals dont recognize any of your words. What would you do?
Very quickly, youd resort to pantomime. And as you tried to learn the language, youd soon appreciate that some people are a lot more helpful than others.
It isnt just that theyre friendlier. Some people just seem to have a better knack for non-verbal cues. They follow your gaze, and comment on what youre looking at. They point at the things they are talking about.
They use their hands and facial expressions to act out some of the things they are trying to say. And theyre really good at it. When they talk, its easier to figure out what they mean.
Researchers call this ability referential transparency, and it helps babies as well as adults. The evidence?
Erica Cartmill and her colleagues made video recordings of real-life conversations between 50 parents and their infants first when the babies were 14 months old, and again when they are 18 months old.
Then, for each parent-child pair, the researchers selected brief vignettes verbal interactions where the parent was using a concrete noun .
The researchers muted the soundtrack of each vignette, and inserted a beeping noise every time the parent uttered the target word. Next, they showed the resulting video clips to more than 200 adult volunteers.
What do we make of these results?
For example, consider the importance of pointing.
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So Should You Teach Your Baby Signs What Are The Benefits Of Baby Sign Language
Teaching a baby to communicate using gestures can be exciting and fun. Its an opportunity to watch your baby think and learn.
The process might encourage you to pay closer attention to your babys attempts to communicate. It might help you appreciate the challenges your baby faces when trying to decipher language.
These are good things, and for some parents, they are reason enough to try baby signing.
But what about other reasons developmental reasons?
Some advocates claim that baby signing programs have long-term cognitive benefits.
They claim that babies taught to sign will amass larger spoken vocabularies, and even develop higher IQs.
Others have claimed that signing has important emotional benefits.
According to this argument, babies learn signs more easily than they learn words. As a result, they communicate more effectively at an earlier age. Their parents understand them better, reducing frustration and stress.
Does the research support these claims?
Not really. But it depends on what you mean by baby-signing.
If by baby signing you mean teaching babies signs derived from ASL or other languages, then theres no compelling evidence of long-term advantages.
But if youre thinking of the more spontaneous, pantomime use of gesture, thats a different story. There is good evidence suggesting that easy-to-decipher, iconic gesturing can help babies learn.
To see what I mean, lets take a closer look at the research.
Families Can Communicate Quite Successfully Without Using Formal Baby Signs
For example, consider this snapshot of a baby making the sign for more, borrowed from ASL.
Its a perfectly useful sign, and many babies have learned it. But what happens if you dont teach your baby this sign?
Will your baby be incapable of letting you know that he wants more applesauce? Will your baby somehow fail to get across the message that she wants to play another round of peek-a-boo?
When parents pay attention to their babies and engage them in conversation, one-on-one they learn to read their babies cues.
A baby might pat the table when he wants more applesauce. A baby might reach out and smile when she wants to play with you. They arent signs borrowed from a language like ASL, but, in context, their meaning is clear.
When we respond appropriately to these spontaneous gestures, we are engaged in successful communication, and we are helping our babies build the social skills they need to master language.
That doesnt mean there is no reason to teach formal signs. You might find that some signs are helpful that they allow for communication that is otherwise difficult for your baby.
But its wrong to think of formal signs as the only gestures that matter. From the very beginnings of humanity, parents and babies have communicated by gesture. And research suggests that gestures matter. A lot!
But Surely There Are Situations Where Signing Is Easier Than Speaking
I think thats very likely. For example, the ASL sign for spider looks a lot like a spider. Its iconic, which may make it easier for babies to decipher. And it might be easier for babies to produce the gesture than to speak the English word, spider, which includes tricky elements, like the blended consonant sp.
The same might be said for the ASL signs for elephant and deer.
But most ASL signs arent iconic, and, as I explain here, some gestures can be pretty difficult for babies to reproduce just as some spoken words can be difficult to pronounce.
So its unlikely that a baby is going to find one mode of communication easier across the board.
Why Should I Teach My Baby To Sign
Baby sign language can encourage babies to communicate, as well as improve parents ability to understand what their tots are trying to say, says Lee Ann Steyns, owner of Signing Babies, a Vancouver-based company that teaches baby sign language.
One of the biggest benefits is the possibility of fewer frustration-related crying jags. Using sign language before they speak can dial down your babys frustration and dial up their confidence that you will listen and respond, says Steyns. Many parents report fewer temper tantrums in older babies who sign, she says.
Learning sign language can give parents a confidence boost, too, especially first-time moms and dads. Sign language can create a framework for how you go about your daily routines and help you feel like youre guiding communication instead of just rolling with the punches, says Steyns. In addition to helping you better understand each other, learning baby signs can also help with your babys developing motor skills and may even boost IQ.
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Want To Learn More Nzsl
Thanks to Deaf Aotearoa, anyone can learn and practice the basics of New Zealand Sign Language using their downloadable, printable posters.
Click on either the Essential Signs for communicating with a Deaf Child poster image OR the NZSL Alphabet poster image to download a printable copy so you can practice your sign language at home!
Grandpa In Sign Language
Learn how to sign grandpa in ASL . Youll want to know the sign for this special guy in the family for sure!
Teaching Tips to learn how to sign grandpa in ASL
- Learning baby sign language is easy when you get to interact with people you love! Every time Grandpa catchs babys eye, say grandpa and model the sign. Soon baby will associate the sign with the guy!
- Does Grandpa do silly things? Model this sentence, Grandpa is silly when he ______! Sign grandpa each time. You can also switch out the word silly for other descriptors.
Transcript:Same as Dad, but bounces forward. Now sign grandpa, grandpa. Grandpa!
Also Check: American Sign Language Hungry
To Further Improve Your Sign Language Skills We Suggest You Do The Following:
- Learn the alphabet:: this is the basic and the building blocks to signing like a pro.
- Practice with native signers:: hanging out with Deaf people is a good away to practice as it is going to force you to use the signlanguage.
- Subscribe to 1 or more Sign Language teaching channels on Youtube:Check outSigned With Heart andASL Rochelle channelsto name just a few.
Which Signs Should I Start With
Although any word that relates to your babys world can be helpful, there are a few that are particularly useful. Functional signs, such as milk and full, are a great starting point, says Steyns. But the fun ones are actually important as well because theyre what your baby will likely be most interested in practising with you, she says. These may include signs like bath, if your little one loves tub time, or dog, if your pooch is already your babys best friend.
Introduce between one and three signs at a time, repeating them often as firm statements and saying and signing the words at the same time. Avoid using the signs as questions because this can confuse your baby, says Steyns.
In addition to practising on your own, it may be worth signing up for an online or in-person course on baby sign language to ensure that youre getting the gestures just right.
Before long , your baby will begin signing back to you. But keep in mind that, as with speech, their early versions of the words in sign language will often be a bit different at first. They may only be decipherable to you in the beginning, but thats OKjust keep trying together.
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How To Teach Basic Baby Sign Language
The good news is that learning baby sign language and teaching it to your little one isn’t that difficult, though the process will require consistent effort, lots of repetition, and patience on your part.Here are some tips for teaching baby sign language to your baby:
For more on how to teach your little one baby sign language, consult your childâs healthcare provider, who may recommend a book or online course on the subject. There may even be classes at your local community center.