Teaching your little one sign language can be a fun and rewarding way to start communicating with baby before they learn to verbally make their requests. And research has shown that learning to sign may actually improve language skills!
So how do you start communicating with baby using sign language? Identify about five easy signs that are also common phrases in your household and start to incorporate the sign every time you say the word.
We love teaching our babies the sign for milk – open and close your fist, like you’re milking a cow. Before you breastfeed, tell baby, “mom is going to give you milk” and do the sign. Use the sign every time you talk about breastfeeding. For moms who prefer to be discrete about breastfeeding, teaching baby how to request milk through sign will make it so they can ask to be breastfed in public in a subtle way.
Here are a few additional signs to get you started:
- Eat – tap your fingers to your lips, like you’re eating – use when you’re talking about solid foods
- All Gone – move your hand, turning from palm up to palm down – this will help baby learn to communicate when they’re finished eating
- More – pinch the fingers down so they make an “o” shape with the fingers in front and thumb closest to your body, and then bring both hands together - helps baby communicate when they want more of something
- Book – open your hands up like a book folding open, so the palms are flat and facing up next to each other – this is an easy one to incorporate into your play time
Once baby is comfortably using these signs, you can begin to add additional words to your vocabulary. Happy signing!