Nothing is more frustrating to a new mom than not knowing what her baby needs. I felt this same way when Ian was born. It was a constant struggle to figure out when he was wet, hungry, tired, or just cranky. On top of that the Hubs left for training one month after he was born. I was by myself trying to maneuver the switchbacks of mothering.
When Ian was about 9 weeks old we started to teach him sign language. By the time he was 3 months he could sign “more” and “all done”. Two weeks after that and we added “drink” and “food”. Just these 4 basic signs were a God send.
Are you wondering if Baby Sign Language is right for you and your baby?
Today I have a special guest post from Misty Weaver, Chief Editor of BabySignLanguage.com. Misty is also the mom of a 2 year old and has twins on the way! BabySignLanguage.com is a great resouce for teaching your baby sign language. The site provides free videos, flash cards, and tutorials.
How to Start Signing with Your Baby
Getting started with Baby Sign Language is easier than you might think. You can move at your own pace and learn as you go. And there’s no scary test at the end!
The first step is deciding if your baby is ready. Most moms start teaching baby sign language when their babies are about six months old, but this is just a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule. There is no harm in starting earlier than that, and many successful signing mothers have started later.
The next step is to get a baby sign language dictionary. Though you can certainly buy a sign language dictionary, you can also access them online, at websites like Baby Sign Language for free.
Now – here comes the hard part. You need to learn a sign. But you get to pick which one you want to learn. Many moms start with milk. Some moms start with the sign for mom. Dads are more inclined to start with the sign for dad. It really doesn’t matter. Of course, if you start with the sign for … say … dinosaur … there might be fewer practical implications, but it’s still up to you.
You will probably be surprised at how easy it will be for you to learn a few signs. Baby signs are based on American Sign Language, the official language of the deaf community in the US and Canada. ASL signs are very logical, and the gestures really do match their meanings. You will never be asked to tap the top of your head as a sign for shoe. So, don’t be intimidated by having to learn signs. They will make sense.
So, once you’ve learned a sign, the next step is to introduce it to your baby. This is also simple, if not a touch repetitive. Here’s the secret to baby sign success:
Make the sign every time you say the word and say the word every time you make the sign.
See? Told you it was simple! Let’s use milk for example. To make the sign for milk, pretend to milk a cow with one hand. (Told you it would be logical!) Now, every time you say to your baby, “Would you like some milk?” you make the sign for milk when you say the word. Depending on the age of your baby, it might be months before she starts to associate the gesture with the meaning, but she will eventually. And not long after that, she will begin to sign back to you. And not long after that, she will begin to sign for milk as a way of asking for milk.
Some mothers get (understandably) frustrated because they do not see progress right away. Don’t give up! You will see progress. It just takes time and a little bit of stubbornness on your part. And once your baby starts to learn that he can get his needs met by making signs, he will start to use his signs – trust me!
So, take a deep breath, and fake it till you make it. Your baby will thank you later.