Sign Language

Written by Linda Alexander
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Did you know babies could learn sign language long before they speak? You can teach babies to sign when they are just six to eight months old. They can communicate with physical gestures before they can communicate verbally.

Uses for Baby Sign Language

Baby sign is useful for parents to communicate with their children. They already teach them how to wave bye and give hugs, so why not teach them other signs? Research also shows that infants who know sign language show stronger language development in childhood than children who do not sign.

To teach your baby sign language, point to an object and show the baby a sign you associate with it. When you sign the word, also speak it at the same time. Exercise patience while your baby learns. Consistency is key. Use the sign every time you do that activity. This way, the sign becomes reinforced in the baby's mind and they learn to associate the sign with the object.

Remember that babies don't have the physical coordination of older children and adults, so use simple handshapes. You don't need to use a real sign language; you can make one up. Or, consult a sign language dictionary for ideas. You can teach your baby signs for "milk," "juice" or "food." That way, long before they learn to speak, your children can tell you what they want or need.


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