Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Post- Teaching Your First Baby Signs

working my way through my 30 before thirty- #15 - teach ian sign language.  more on my experiences later!

Teaching Your First Baby Signs

Baby sign language is a way of teaching your baby to communicate by way of simple hand gestures. Based on ASL (American Sign Language), it is a simplified version especially for babies and children. Baby Sign Language is fun, free and it really works – you can start to sign from birth. Read on to find out how to teach your first Baby Signs.

How To Start
It’s best to begin with signs you can use on a daily basis, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. More is (probably not surprisingly) often the first sign a baby learns. Signs that represent something exciting to your baby will be easier for him or her to learn. Here is how to make these first signs:

* To sign Mommy extend and spread apart your fingers. With your pinkie facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin.
* To sign Daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your right hand. Tap your hand on your forehead. Done right you will look like a turkey.
* The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat.
* To make the sign for More, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly. Baby will often simplify More by clapping their fists together. As they get older and more proficient you may want to encourage the more correct sign of flattening out their hands and creating the O shape with their thumbs as a fun way to help them develop fine motor skills.

Teaching Signs
To successfully teach these signs, you need to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby. Say the word that goes with the sign clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Be sure to sign when your baby is alert and not fussing or tired, using an object which is exciting to him, such as Milk or Mummy. Practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident and clear about what you are doing. It’s important to repeat the sign as often as possible – make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. Babies learn through repetition, so try to make signing a fun part of your day.

Be Patient
Don’t expect too much too soon. Your baby is unlikely to be signing for more milk if he is only 4 months old and you’ve been signing to him for a week! Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language , found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at seven months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.
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