One of the more common questions we receive in our Facebook Baby Sign Language Page is often a variation of moms, dads, educators or caregivers concerned regarding the speed and which their baby is learning new signs. As parents most of us wish there was a user guide showing us the exact date and time in which our baby will achieve a particular milestone. Because we are anxious to communicate with our baby and most importantly we want our baby to be understood and have his needs met we can’t help it but feel a little anxiety when other moms we meet in the playground celebrate as their baby begins to use his first signs or when a friend shares a video on Facebook of their five-month old baby signing “milk.”
If you are a worried mama who has been diligently working on teaching your baby to use sign language along with other life skills we want to remind you that you are not alone. There are endless factors that influence the timelines in which babies achieve different milestones. Some factors are under our control and some are are not. Today we want to help by providing you some guidance that might help you teach your baby sign language and will provide you encouragement as you wait for him to surprise you with his first sign.
Four Advanced Techniques to You Can Incorporate to Help Baby Sign
This is the logical approach to teaching a sign during the early stages of learning. Using the verbal expression along with the sign outside a practical context or without the object or action associated with the word often leads to confusion. The best way to do contextual repetition is to incorporate it to natural tasks or activities such as eating or drinking. For example: You can say and sign milk while giving baby their bottle.
Modeling the Sign Using Baby’s Hands
Babies have very limited fine motor skills. For this reason we encourage you to guide baby by helping them complete the sign using your own hands to manipulate their fingers and gestures as they complete the sign. This is best achieved when you have another adult or older child as a teaching partner since you might need to sit the child on your lap as the other person helping shows baby an object such as a flower or a ball.
Learning Baby Sign Language with Music & Song
Babies love music! One excellent way to introduce a baby to a signed concept is to contextualize it in song. This is best done using multimedia that provides the child with a visual association to the sign. In addition to helping baby learn a sign music teaches little ones to process information in their brain in a different way that speech does. The area of our brain that processes music is different from the area that processes speech and communication. By connecting both concepts you provide baby with a special advantage as they grow and are faced with more complex mental processes. Incorporate signs to songs you are already using with baby or consider learning new songs with Baby Signing Times which is part of our Premium Baby Sign Language Kit.
Learning-Specific Props & Toys
If you don’t live on a farm teaching farm animals may present a challenge as baby won’t have any concrete examples to make associations. If baby is not yet of an age where reading small books might prove appropriate consider securing small figurines representing objects not naturally available in the baby’s day-to-day context. If you reserve these props and toys exclusively for baby sign language teaching times baby might just be encouraged to sign with the hope of receiving time with these props as a reward.
If you wish to learn additional advanced methods to help you encourage your baby as they discover the joy of pre-verbal communication you may want to read our teaching guide. Chapter 5 in particular includes unique teaching methodologies based on research and proved to help in encouraging early communication. In our home we used the Pepperberg Method with excellent results. You might just want to give it a try! Finally, we encourage you to remain upbeat and positive. Before you know it, your little one will be signing far more than you ever expected. When it finally happens we would love to celebrate with you. Stop by our Facebook page and share a video or photo with us to commemorate this great achievement.