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How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language

Wouldn’t it be great if your baby could just tell you when he was hungry, thirsty, or getting tired? He can, if you teach him to sign.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Get an ASL dictionary Get an American Sign Language dictionary, or look up certain words online.
  • Step 2: Start signing Start signing to your baby when he is six months old so he can begin making associations between your gestures and his needs. Say the word as you sign it.
  • TIP: Repeat the word and the sign as often as you can during the interaction; babies need the repetition in order to learn.
  • Step 3: Begin with bottle Let’s begin with 'bottle.' Show the baby his bottle and then hold your hand in front of you, palm side up, and mimic placing a cup on it with your other hand.
  • TIP: Help the baby make the sign himself by guiding his hands with yours.
  • Step 4: Teach sign for “milk” If you’re breast-feeding exclusively, teach him the sign for 'milk' – simply open and close your fist several times, like you’re milking a cow.
  • TIP: Use sign language consistently or not at all. Your baby won’t learn unless you repeat the sign every time the corresponding action takes place.
  • Step 5: Show him how to ask for “more” food Tell him to ask for more by raising your hands in front of you and touching and untouching your fingertips.
  • Step 6: Help him tell you he’s thirsty Help him tell you he’s thirsty by making the sign for 'drink.' Just pretend there’s a cup in your hand and tip it toward your mouth.
  • Step 7: Speed up potty training Speed up potty training by making the sign for 'toilet' when you catch him peeing or pooping. Just put your thumb between your first two fingers and shake your hand back and forth.
  • Step 8: Help baby communicate that he’s sleepy Help baby communicate that he’s sleepy before he gets fussy. Every time you put him to bed, hold your right hand in front of your face, fingers spread and palm facing toward you. Then move your hand down toward your chin as you bring all your fingers together.
  • Step 9: Enjoy the perks Enjoy the perks of being able to communicate with your baby – less frustration on his part means fewer crying jags for you to deal with!
  • FACT: Research has shown that although babies are unable to speak at six months, they have the ability by that age to use and understand language.

You Will Need

  • An American Sign Language dictionary
  • Time
  • Patience

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