Should I teach my baby sign language?
Real Mom Problem
“My one-year-old doesn't say anything at all. His hearing is fine and he can comprehend what we say to him. The issue is that he has no form of communication with us. He just cries to send us his messages still. It's just the only way he knows how to communicate. If he's hungry, he cries. If he's tired, he cries. If he's bored, he cries. If he wants to nurse, he cries. I really feel like if he had some way to communicate, things would go a little more smoothly.”
- 1. Many moms find sign language a way to communicate with their babies before they learn to talk
- 2. Pick one sign to start with and repeat it until your baby has caught on before introducing a new one
- 3. Good words to start with include "more," "milk," and "eat"
- 4. Experts agree that using baby sign language accelerates speech development rather than hinders it
Real Mom Solutions
Give Baby Sign Language a Try
Communication in any way is a good thing. So much baby stress comes from inability to communicate.
I did American Sign Language (ASL) with my two daughters. I started them between six and nine months. I taught them "more," "please," "thank you," "milk," and "cracker." It helped a lot. I plan to do the same with my son.
My son is doing wonderfully with signs. He signs "eat," "more," and "all done" right now. I am so glad I decided to do it with him.
I used American Sign Language with my daughter. She is 18 months now. I love it. Her first sign was "more." She does "hot," "cold," "eat," "dog," "cat," "pig," "horse," "drink," "lion," "apple," "banana," "flower," "up," "girl," "grandma," "mommy," and many others. I love that she can tell me what she wants and I don't get a lot of tantrums.
Before they start talking, sign language can be a life saver.
Get Started with Simple Signs
Jump online and learn the signs at the American Sign Language website, and then teach them. All you do is repeatedly do the sign while saying the word and offering something... more, drink, please, etc. You can even take her hand and do the sign with her to teach it.
We taught our daughter the "more" sign. It helped us a lot before she could talk. She used it when she wanted to eat or continue to do something. I should have taught her more signs, but that worked perfectly for us. I can't wait to do it with my youngest.
Choose one sign and repeat, repeat, repeat. When he catches on, get a new one.
I found that the most helpful signs were "milk" (open & shut your hand like you were milking a cow), "more" (bring both hands together, touching finger tips)," all done" (shaking both hands gently at shoulder level) and "help" (using both hands to pat your chest near collar bone). These seem to be most beneficial as they address the basics.
Don't Worry About Speech Delays
Say the word when you are teaching it to them and you say the word when they are signing it to you. That way speech isn't delayed. If all you did was sign without teaching them how to say it or making them say it (when they are bigger) then I am sure that would delay speech.
We speak the word and do the sign at the same time so it won't hinder speech (not that I think it would). My baby knows "mama," "dada," "milk," and "thank you."