Using sign language with my girls has been a very useful tool in communication. With Brylee I started at 6 months but was ready to give up at 10 months after working consistently with her. Then one day, right after I decided to just give up, she started signing back to me!
When Cami was born, I was determined to have her signing just as early as well. However she had different intentions. Again I was consistent in working with her but by 12 months she just wasn’t interested. I was about to give up when one day at about 13 months she signed for me!
Below are things I learned while signing with my children and hopefully they come in handy for you as well!
Tips for Signing with Your Child:
- Learn the basics. – I had a baby signing board book that I learned from. Nothing fancy… milk, food/eat, drink, more, sleep, potty, mommy, daddy. Make sure to learn signs you will use daily with your child and that will make communicating with them easier.
- Introduce one at a time. – Don’t overwhelm your child. We began with “milk”. Then from there moved to “eat”. Then “more”. Spend a few days focusing on that one sign. Then add in another one. I didn’t introduce anything past “milk, eat, more” until they were signing back to me. (Then they pick it up quick!)
- Sign at the appropriate time. – For example, sign “milk” to your child when you are nursing. Or when they are having their bottle. Sign “eat” when they are eating. You get the picture.
- Say the word while you sign. – When introducing “more”, I would say “More?” and sign. Then give them more cheerios if that was what was being given. When I was spoon feeding, I would say “Eat?” and sign. Then give a spoon full of food.
- Be consistent. – This is probably the most important. You may feel silly at first because more than likely your child will give you a blank stare. But sign multiple times daily using the above tips, even if you see no progress.
- Don’t give up. – This one may compete for the most important, actually. Both times when attempting to teach my girls sign language, I wanted to give up. I felt silly and wasn’t seeing any interest on their end. But one day, when you are saying the word and signing at the appropriate time, your child will sign back to you. I believe both girls did it while eating in their high chair. Brylee’s was “eat” and Cami’s was “more”. From there, the signing snowballed.
- “Use your words.” – Use this phrase once your child is signing consistently with you. When they become fussy and are whining, say “Use your words, please.” Then prompt them with saying a few of the signs and they should sign back what they want.
Once your child is signing a few basic signs, begin to pick up speed on introducing more signs. You may find that they catch on pretty quickly and how much easier it is to figure out what that little one wants!
Watch my girls signing in action below or go here. The video is a bit shaky but you can see that both girls sign very well. Yes, Brylee is at the age where you can understand what she is saying but her signing comes in handy often. She was extremely helpful in teaching her little sister to sign and at church she is able to communicate with some of the deaf preschool workers!