Ananya Bhattacharjee Writer. Musician. Mother. Reading, music and travelling are all time favourites. Been into ‘writing’ from the last 10 years and have become an everlasting love since I started.

Communicating With The Child Through Baby Sign Language

3 min read

Ever wondered what your baby is trying to communicate when he’s crying during his preverbal period? Well, you’re not the only one! This is a common worry of many parents, to try to understand what the baby wants to say when his voice and words haven’t yet developed. It is in these times that Baby Sign language comes to the rescue!

What is Baby Sign Language?

Sign language for babies is simpler gestures and hand movements through which the baby can express what’s in the mind or what the feeling is! The baby sign language is a new and effective way of communication between a baby and a parent.

If you are concerned about teaching your baby sign language, don’t be! It is advisable to start communicating with the baby in sign language when he/she is between 4-6 months old. It is during that time babies show certain gestures- like when they want to be picked up they hold out their hands or points to an object when they want to take it. As such, teaching sign language will help them to express the same more beautifully to their parents.

Teaching Sign Language:

Teaching sign language is fun and effective. When you communicate with the baby, for example, say milk or food; you can say the word ‘milk’ or ‘food’ and also show the sign for the given word. The parent should be patient while teaching the baby; it is obvious that the child would take time to learn it. Also, repetition is the key, the more the parent repeats the word and the sign language, the more effective will be the process of learning and communication. The little one would take time to properly start making signs- it will be when the child id 6-9 months old. Some of the necessary simple signs and ways to teach them are: 

More: 

When your baby would need more, be it of food or your cuddle, the child can express it through sign. To teach this sign, first extend all fingers and then bring them together to form a single point. Thereafter, tap each point and say more with your mouth. This will help the baby to understand and express beautifully later on. 

Done: 

This sign express ending an activity like feeding or playing or any other activity the baby is indulged in. To teach this sign, extend the fingers and showing the back of the palm twist it to show the empty front side of the palm. While doing this, speak the word ‘done’ to help the baby relate to the sign. 

Eat: 

Mealtimes mean eating. This sign is used to express eating anything and will help the child to express the hungry feeling. To teach this extend the fingers and form a point. Thereafter bring them together to the lips and repeat the sign several times while verbally speaking ‘eat’. 

Milk: 

Milk is the primary feed of a baby when he/she is not into solids yet. As such, this sign is one of the most important ones to teach the child. To teach this sign, first show the open palm and then curl it to form a fist. Thereafter, pull the fist down like the act of milking a cow. Repeat this sign to help the baby understand it while verbally saying ‘milk’. 

Benefits of Baby Sign Language:

Communicating with a baby through sign language has many benefits. It would not only help the baby ease away the frustration but will also strengthen the bond between the child and the parents.  When the baby is hungry or needs to be held or wants to express anything, the baby will be able to express easily through sign language without crying and getting frustrated. Baby sign language also helps a baby to grow smart. Recent studies have pointed out that babies who learn sign language are better versed in vocabulary than compared to other babies.

Things to Note:

There are certain tips to be kept in mind while teaching a baby sign language:

·    Few signs at the beginning: Just two or three signs at the beginning are good to go step for the baby. The baby would not get confused not will have difficulty in learning the signs.

·   Mealtime: When you decide to start teaching the baby sign language, always start with mealtime signs. Teaching signs related to meal times as the first step is best as the child takes multiple feeds during the day and they also get fascinated by different kinds of food.

·    Speak and sign: Speaking the word as you sign is the most effective way of teaching sign language to the baby. It helps the child to understand the term and also the vocabulary gets improved.

·    Slow signing: Repetitive and slow signing is easier to learn. A baby cannot learn the signs in a day and at one go. As such, teaching the sign slowly and repeating it many times is the best way.

·    Not only once: It is not necessary that mealtime signs should be taught only during meal times. You can teach the sign at any other time throughout the day for the child’s better learning process.

As the baby learns and understands the signs gradually, increase the count of signs with time. You can include signs that interest the child and for words that fascinate him/her. Baby sign language is much more popular nowadays, as parents look for better and more effective ways to communicate with the child. 

Ananya Bhattacharjee Writer. Musician. Mother. Reading, music and travelling are all time favourites. Been into ‘writing’ from the last 10 years and have become an everlasting love since I started.

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