All The Benefits of Baby Sign Language & How To Get Started
How interesting is this post ?? I’m living for this & am so excited…
BABY SIGN LANGUAGE !!
Ok, ok, if you don’t have kids, maybe this post isn’t for you. I get it, TRUST ME. But if you do have a baby this post is muy interesante.
Today were going to talk about the benefits of baby sign language & what signs you should start off with. Zaza & I have totally been trying to work on our communication- I think she understands me? I always ask if she wants something to eat or drink or if she wants to go to sleep. She never answers me on the sleep one. Go figure.
Anyway, Rebecca Zolo is here today to talk about everything to do with baby sign language. Not only is she a Speech Pathologist but she’s a mom of 3 ( with twins ! ) & as you can image she totally gets being a mom & the importance of communicating with your kids.
Let’s welcome Rebecca to The Skinny Confidential.
Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca Lee & I am so excited to be sharing the benefits of baby sign language & relaying ways to teach it to your baby! I am a Speech & Language Pathologist, & I have worked on teaching babies to communicate for many years. However, it wasn’t until I had my own babies that I realized that babies actually feel very strongly about communicating with us, & they NEED to feel heard & understood.
Babies need to be able to communicate their wants & needs, because when they can’t, they feel incredibly frustrated. Frustration leads to crying, tantrums, & stress for baby & caretaker. I have twin girls & a boy that is 21 months younger than the twins. When my son was born, I suddenly had three babies under age 2. I knew that I needed to get them communicating early because I was not emotionally equipped to handle tantrums in addition to the diapers, round the clock feeding & of course, sleepless nights ( but, of course, they are my little miracles ).
I did some research, & taught myself the signs. Then I started teaching it to them. When I saw them being successful with using the signs, I HAD to share it with other moms, so I started my baby sign language class. I teach simple signs through simple songs. The babies love the songs & the moms & dads love the challenge of having to use the signs while singing the songs in class. A fun time is had by all.
So, the questions I am always asked are:
How do I teach it? Will they understand?
Babies can start understanding sign language at about 4 or 5 months & can start using it at about 8 or 9 months! However, it is never too early or too late to start teaching your baby sign language!
The way I like to teach sign language is to incorporate it into your baby’s daily routine. So, for example, when it is time for meals, you would sign the word “eat” to your baby & say the word “eat” at the same time as you are signing it. Then, you would give your baby their meal. During meal time, you can sign things such as spoon, fork, cup, water, milk, juice, etc. ( the possibilities are endless & the signs are super easy to learn! ).
You should always pair your signs with words. Even if your baby doesn’t imitate the signs right away, & you feel like it is not working, trust me…once they are ready, they will surprise you with the signs. There are a few signs which I recommend starting with, so that your baby can make simple requests, agree to things, or reject things. This allows them to feel like they have some type of control. We want them to know that their communication is important, & that we fully take their wants & needs seriously. Therefore, teaching them the signs shows them that they are being heard!
The signs that I recommend starting with are:
♡ thank you
You can incorporate these signs into almost any routine during the day, especially when you are playing with your child. If playing with a doll, you can sign that the doll is tired, wants to eat, wants to sleep, etc.
An example of a routine in addition to the meal time routine is the bed time routine. You can ask your baby if they are tired, using the sign for “tired.” At bed time, you can sign things such as “milk” ( if they drink milk before bed ), “book” for a bedtime story, etc. As long as you show them the signs consistently, they will start to get it! Babies brains are like sponges, so you’d be really surprised what they are capable of! You can find the signs anywhere on the internet. I recommend googling the videos for each sign instead of trying to figure it out from a picture because those can get confusing!
Teaching your baby sign language has so many incredible benefits! Research has shown that sign language actually speeds up speech development. Many parents ask me if teaching their babies sign language will delay their speech. The answer to that is a definite no! Not only can it speed up their speech development, but it decreases their frustration (which leads to fewer tantrums at Target ) & also helps with the parent-child bond.
My best friend’s toddler said the word “bookie” for a million nights which led to tantrums when it was found out that “bookie” did not indeed mean she wanted a book. After many nights of a baby in hysterics & a mom & dad pulling their hair out, the meaning of “bookie” was finally revealed. It turns out, “bookie” was their toddler’s word for “milk.” Now, had she known the sign for milk & paired it with “bookie”, these tantrums would have been avoided & we would have had a happy baby & stress free mom & dad with a full head of hair.
In addition to the short term benefits, there are also long term benefits! Studies have shown that babies who learned sign early in life had a larger vocabulary later, learned to read earlier & were more emotionally developed.
My twins are now almost four years old & even though they are speaking in mature adult sentences, they still use signs to be cute. Like, if they want something from across the room & don’t want to yell, they simply use the sign to show me that they want to be served a cookie or an ice -cold beverage. Hopefully, they can continue these signs into their adult life. Like, if they think a guy is cute & they want to tell each other from across the room, they can signal that to each other with a simple sign!
So, if you have a baby or toddler, be sure to start teaching sign language right away! You’ll be amazed at what your baby can do. & of course, if you need advice or strategies, feel free to get in touch! You can find me on Instagram @babysignNJ or email email@example.com.
Be sure to follow Rebecca on Instagram for more tips for communicating with your little ones.
+ if you haven’t listened yet, be sure to check out Dr. Alyssa Berlin’s podcast episode if you’re postpartum.
++ check out how I’m making Zaza’s baby food.