One of the most common questions we receive relates to progress on how baby processes, understands and responds to baby sign language. With many parents reporting baby signs as early as five months it can sometimes be perplexing to try to guess is your baby is in the right path.
If you have been diligent in implementing the basics of learning sign language and those around you such as caregivers and other family members are supportive and participative in the learning process chances are baby will begin signing quicker than ever.
Here are some of the most common signs that will help you know if your baby is about to begin using baby sign language:
- Your baby maintains eye contact when you are signing.
- Your baby is emotionally responsive to signs by smiling and other facial expressions.
- Your baby babbles or makes noises when you sign.
- Your baby makes movements with their hands as if attempting to sign.
- Your baby engages with signing material like musical videos and flashcards.
Always keep in mind that each little one has a distinct pace and style of learning. Try different approaches until you discover the one that works best for your baby.
Once a baby has mastered two or three signs you will begin to see very quick progress on how they communicate. Every Monday we share our baby sign language stories on our Facebook page. Join us and tell us about your progress.
We are all wired for survival. This natural proclivity makes it challenging when it comes to teaching our babies social constructs such as sharing and taking turns. The power to possess is a natural part of the child’s growing awareness. Don’t be surprised if among the first words your toddler verbalizes are posesive terms such as “mine”.
Your baby will develop attachments to things and persons having this attachment is essential and will serve as a foundation to healthy emotional bonds. Starting at six months you are likely to see signs of attachment that can easily be misinterrpreted as selfishness.
Your task as a parent is to gently guide baby in the understanding of social dynamics that demand sharing without impacting their need for attachment and the intrinsic value of this type of behavior.
When do we start teaching our babies how to share?
Teaching babies to share can take place from birth. By this we mean babies should be immersed into family settings where selflessness and love abounds. Use words like sharing and taking turns early on in life but don’t force little ones to share until they are ready.
How do we teach our babies to share?
Teaching how to share by example can take place in the context of meals and play. If you are eating something and you are ready to introduce baby to a new flavor say and sign “share” as you give your little one small bites of the new food item. Taking turns can be introduced early in life by incorporating it to games with props. Take a toy manipulate it, pass it along to baby and say and sign “taking turns” When baby starts loosing interest in the prop pick it up and say “my turn”.
When can I expect my baby to begin sharing?
We need to keep in mind that little ones are not capable of true empathy until later in life. For this reason sharing is a conditioned behavior associated to rewards. We cannot stress it enough that sharing and generosity are learned by example. Lead a generous life and your baby or toddler will imitate.
What are the best methods to teach sharing and taking turns?
Aside from a strong and constant example what works best to teach little ones to share is to incorporate the concept into games. Consider getting an egg timer and teaching your toddler about timed turns. If you are fortunate enough to have older siblings teaching share and taking turns might just be easier for you.
Our gift to you:
Baby Sign Language Flashcard for Share
Baby Sign Language Flashcard for Taking Turns
In tandem with teaching the signs for share and taking turns incorporate please and thank you to your child’s signing repertoire.
Many of our babies are quickly becoming active and inquisitive toddlers. As parents and educators we are to join our little ones side-by-side as they discover the world around them and learn new skills that will remain with them for a lifetime.
Both SAHM and working moms often find themselves in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks for the family. Keeping a toddler busy and engaged while taking care of food preparation can be challenging to say the least. Last week I received an email and photo from my friend Julie telling me how she has incorporated baby sign language to cooking time in her home. Here are Julie’s best tips. We hope they are helpful to you as we head into the holiday season and we are even more likely to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen.
Pick a Weekly Theme
Each week Julie picks a theme for her little girl. The theme is based around what Julie plans to cook or special occasions and holidays. To date they have worked on a unit focused on fruits, another one on snacks and most recently they are working on learning everything associated with a birthday.
Provide Hands-On Opportunities
This week Julie will be baking a cake. Her little girl will help and have several opportunities to taste and touch the ingredients. Because the focus is chocolate cake Julie has created a chocolate-themed scrapbook with wrappers from different brands of chocolate candy bars.
Create a Flashcard Wall
Julie prints full size flashcards from our free digital resources page relevant to her weekly theme and displays the flashcards on the refrigerator.
Use The Opportunity to Introduce Your Toddler to Letters
Julie keeps a magnetic alphabet handy and she is teaching her little girl the first letter for each of the words that they are learning how to sign together.
Practice Outside the Home
As part of using the kitchen experience as an opportunity to teach baby sign language Julie is also incorporating on-the-go contextual teaching. When Julie heads to the grocery store she is showing her little girl other instances related to the words of the week. They walk through the bakery and see different cakes or visit the baking goods section and Julie points to the boxed cake mix while signing cake.
Thank you Julie for writing to us to give us a progress report and to share excellent ideas to help toddlers expand their baby sign language vocabulary.
One of the most important tools we can give to our children is the ability to communicate their needs and wants effectively and in a socially appropriate way. By introducing our babies to signed communication we give them a tremendous headstart when it comes to fully understanding how language empowers us.
If you are the parent of a newborn, baby or toddler and you are trying to figure out how to get started with baby sign language and you are struggling with selecting your first words keep reminding yourself that the words you teach baby will be the ones baby will have available to use when you ask him to “use his words”. With this in mind consider working first on their top ten starter signs to set a strong foundation and set the stage for the learning of new signs.
Once your baby has mastered their first ten signs ask yourself the following questions:
What is our environmental context?
Pick your signs around the the things that surround you. If you live in a two-story home learning the word for stairs becomes more relevant to the daily needs of your child. If home is by the ocean you may want to include signs such as sand, fish, dolphin, etc.
What are your baby’s interests?
Early on your baby will show interests, some babies love fans, others love vacuum cleaners or rattles. Pay attention to the objects of their affection and consider prioritizing those signs to ease communication.
What are my baby’s specific needs?
If you have a little one with different needs you want to take into account their needs when picking and prioritizing their baby signs. If a baby is spending significant time at the hospital consider including a few relevant signs such as doctor or ache.
What are your baby’s tastes?
Observe your baby’s food preferences and begin incorporating signs that equip your little ones to ask for what they would prefer to eat. In doing this do keep in mind that it is up to you the parent to give baby a balanced nutrition.
Picking up new signs that make sense to your baby is a cornerstone of communication which will later become the basis for effective verbal communication that reduces meltdowns and meets the child at their point of need. Be intentional and consistent in teaching him and don’t forget to have fun!
Welcome fall! We are so glad you are here. Fall is one of our favorite seasons and we can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us. Shorter cooler days, two awesome family holidays and milder weather to spend outdoors are just some of the reasons we are stoked about autumn.
For many of you this will be a time of discovery as you introduce your babies and toddlers to new concepts and work on enriching their vocabulary. If your baby is between 12 months and 3 years of age consider the following fall activities:
- Photo Scavenger Hunt-Print several flashcards from common outdoor objects and let your toddler help you locate the objects in their surroundings. Take a photo of the object with your phone or point and shoot and print the photo for your little one to match with the baby sign language flashcard. Work on learning the sign while you learn to make connections between real objects and images.
- Crafts with Leaves-Spend time collecting leaves of different colors and teach baby to glue their leaves following an outline or pattern. You can create seasonally-themed images such as a turkey or a jack-o-lantern.
- Fun in the Kitchen-Let your baby help and become familiar with new seasonal dishes from cranberry-based snacks to pumpkin treats. You can tape relevant flashcards to your refrigerator and help your toddler learn about new foods.
Our favorite fall baby signs:
Let’s print, learn and share these new words. Join us on our Facebook community with your questions or to share your videos and photos of baby signing.
We don’t live in a perfect world and for many parents, trips to the hospital and hospital stays for their little ones are part of their reality. We know of several courageous little ones with chronic conditions that require specialized medical care and we have been delighted and impressed by their intelligence and ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. Many of these little ones use baby sign language as well as flashcards to facilitate communication with their caregivers.
For the rest of us visits to the hospital may not be as frequent but when they do happen it is important that toddlers are as comfortable as possible and well equipped to communicate their needs and wants.
Here is a sweet collection of signs to equip little ones to better navigate medical environments:
We are not including body parts on this list. A good way to help little ones communicate a pain is to teach them to point where it hurts.
You may also want to modify your hospital baby sign language deck to include your baby’s favorite signs such as teddy bear or other items of interest.
Share the signs with hospital staff by taping printable flashcards on the walls or consider printing the baby sign language chart of baby signs.
Check out this lovely story on how a mom used baby sign language to make a hospital stay easier on her little one.
We have already explored the best signs for babies to learn before going camping and to get ready for playground interaction. These activities while fun, don’t take place as frequently as dining out plus the setting allows little ones more freedom related to their behavior and mobility.
Today we are going to work on our baby signs for a type of outing that can sometimes be stressful as we work toward teaching our little ones gentleness, quiet interaction and good table manners. The final goal is to make sure our babies and toddlers enjoy their dining experience while allowing others at their table and around them to also enjoy the moment.
Signing with your baby in this context is extra important. It allows you to replace constant verbal reinforcement that sometimes can distract and interrupt other diners with a more subtle and child-friendly form of communication.
Let’s get our printers ready and build our dining out flashcard set:
Baby Sign Language for Restaurants
Working on teaching our babies and toddlers how to best behave at restaurants requires, time, patience, love and discipline. Please feel free to leave your best tips in the comments.
We are so thrilled to welcome milder weather! For us early fall means multiple opportunities for camping with our little ones. Sometimes we will hit the road and head camping at national parks, other times it is a simple as pitching our little tent in the backyard and letting imagination and love take over the rest.
If you are planning on camping with your baby or toddler we want to share with you a few signs to add to your camping baby sign flashcard deck:
We hope you enjoy this collection of baby signs and can’t wait to get your videos and photos of baby camping. Before you hit the road or head to the yard please remember to take basic precautions to keep your little ones safe:
- Don’t forget the insect repellant
- Don’t forget the sunscreen
- Babies and toddlers should always have identity tags or bands
- Manage your fire with care
- Don’t leave food unattended if you are camping in a park with bears
- Don’t feed the wildlife
As the weather becomes milder opportunities to do outdoor activities will certainly increase. For those of you entering the toddler stage it will be your very first opportunity to improve motor skills and enhance social skills by interacting at your local playground.
Now that your baby has mastered need-based signs such as milk, more, mom & dad we can begin to focus on expanding their baby sign language vocabulary as they become familiar with new objects and new settings.
In addition to new words it is important that we work on developing values and teaching manners. A social context such as the playground provides an excellent backdrop to help our toddlers become familiar with concepts such as sharing, taking turns, asking politely and apologizing.
Before you head out to the playground we encourage you to work on learning the following playground-friendly baby signs:
We know these signs will be super useful and extra fun. Before you head to the playground make sure you have applied sunscreen and bring along some water and snacks.
We can’t wait to see the videos of your little ones using baby sign language in the playground
One of the most humbling things about working with all our fans and friends in the journey of baby sign language is the opportunity to witness how babies develop communication skills.
We believe little ones should be exposed to a variety of intellectually and emotionally estimating environments that foster a better understanding of the world that surrounds them. Last week we shared with you a sweet and wonderful adventure at the Perot Museum of Science. It was lovely to see Max navigate in a new environment and use his signs to communicate needs and learn new signs.
This week we are sharing with you A Day at the Zoo. I had the opportunity to join Max and his family for this little field trip and was super impressed at his comfort with the world that surrounds him and his ability to reach out in a social context. Max frequently reached out to other babies and attempted to communicate using both words and signs
The best stories are those that inspire us. This baby sign language story does just that. Max has been progressing quickly and is starting to become a highly verbal child. He is a joy to be around and baby sign language truly reduces stress when it comes to his ability to express his needs and wants.
Spending the day with Max and his mom Danielle is magical and a testimony on how a working mother can have such a great influence in the educational development of a baby. Danielle has done a great job. Every single day Max shows a new skill, signs a new word and demonstrates a better understanding of his surroundings.
Max knows many signs for vegetables and fruits and he is really good about signing to communicate basic needs such as thirst, sleep or more.
As you watch this video where Danielle and Max visit the Perot Science museum I want you to notice that Max is able to identify the fossil model of a Mastodon as an “elephant”, He also makes the connection between a wolf and a dog.
A few awesome facts about Max:
- Max is attending a bilingual daycare. sign language serves as a transitional tool between English & Spanish.
- Max is highly advanced verbally and emotionally for his age. It is a delight to see him try to engage little ones and adults at every single outing.
- Max is not prone to meltdowns at all. He is a super happy baby and always ready to convey his needs. Mom is awesome too and quite receptive to his creativity. Max has invented his own signs as he learns to navigate the world.
- Max loves fruits and vegetables.
- Max also learns baby sign language at church. His newest sign is Jesus.
- Max receives lots of encouragement and baby sign language instruction from his older sister Olivia.
We hope you enjoyed this video. If you have ideas and suggestions of museums and parks in your own town that other parents might enjoy as a setting to expose babies to new things feel free to leave a comment.