Every parent has been there…
Your baby is crying. You know they want something and, if you can just figure out what that “something” is and give it to them, the crying will stop.
Unfortunately, figuring out what your child wants is a matter of trial and error.
So, one by one, you go down the list of every possible thing you can think of that might turn off the waterworks. (Food. A bottle. A fresh diaper. Their favorite blankie.) Eventually, you’ll figure it out, and peace and quiet will be restored to your home. The question is whether it will take you 3 minutes or 30.
The entire process can be very frustrating for everyone concerned.
If only there was a way for your baby to simply tell you what they wanted right away, before the first tear was even shed.
Well there is a way. It’s called baby sign language!
Why Use Baby Sign Language?
Babies are capable of understanding language long before they are able to talk.
When you ask your baby whether they want this or that, they will often shake their head when you name something they don’t want. Clearly, they do understand what certain words mean. And they probably know the word for what they want, too. They just aren’t capable of communicating it to your verbally.
That’s where baby sign language comes in.
Long before a baby develops the ability to speak (roughly 12 to 13 months of age), they will have developed enough manual dexterity to communicate with you through signing. Some babies learn simple signs as young as 6 months. One thing is certain: the earlier you start signing to your baby, the earlier they will start signing back.
It takes surprisingly little time or effort to teach a baby a few simple signs. And, once your baby knows the signs for what they want, they will use them.
As a result, they will be happy because they are able to communicate their wants and needs to you. And you will be happy because you will rarely have to spend 15 minutes (or more) with a baby screaming in your ear while you try to figure out what you can give them to make them stop. It’s a win-win for both parent and child.
When And How To Start Using Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language is based on American Sign Language (ASL), the sign language used by English-speakers.
However, you don’t have to learn the entire vocabulary of ASL signs in order to teach your baby sign language.
Instead, you should focus on the signs for a few simple, need-based words, like:
When you talk to your child, and you say one of these words, just make the appropriate sign for the word at the same time. Eventually, your child will connect the sign to the word, and will begin to use it themselves to let you know they are hungry, thirsty, or “want more.”
Remember, you can start teaching your baby sign language when they are 6 months old, or even younger! While a child that young might not be able to sign back right away, they will start absorbing the information.
By the time they are old enough to start using the signs, doing so will be second nature to them. Starting early will also give you plenty of time to learn the signs yourself, and to be able to use them just as naturally.
Sometimes, figuring out what your baby wants can be a real challenge. But baby sign language is a simple, easy-to-learn way to open up the lines of communication between you and your baby, and make the communicating with your baby a whole lot easier… and fun!
More Baby Sign Language Basics
- Baby Sign Language: 21 Words & Signs To Know
- Video: How To Do Baby Sign Language
- Baby Sign Language Dictionary
- The Popularity Of Baby Sign Language
- Baby Sign Language Books
- 9 Reasons To Teach Sign Language To Your (Hearing) Baby
- Baby Sign Language DVDs
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).