Behavior & Development • May 01, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs – Language for infants?

It’s frustrating when your baby cries and you don’t know what she wants. While most children don’t begin speaking in phrases until they’re 18 months to 2-years-old, many are ready to communicate with you much sooner.

Teaching them baby sign language can open up those lines of communication.

Showing the Signs

You can begin teaching baby sign language as soon as your child demonstrates he is ready to communicate with some of the following signs:

  • making eye contact
  • pointing
  • showing interest in picture books

When your child is ready to begin, choose signs for words you use in your daily routine. And every time you do something that has a matching sign, use the sign whenever you speak the word.

Start with just one or two signs. Once he begins to use the signs, you can start teaching more. Always pair the sign with the spoken word when modeling for your baby. This helps form a bridge to verbal communication. Don’t be discouraged if your baby doesn’t start signing immediately. It can take weeks or months for your child to begin using sign language, though he’ll likely understand the signs much sooner.

Benefits of Baby Signing

Parents often decide to use baby sign language to prevent some of the frustration that occurs when a parent and baby can’t communicate.

Baby sign language is a great opportunity for children to share their thoughts.  Parents report it helps improve a child’s temperament by giving that child a way to more clearly communicate wants and needs..

Baby sign language often helps reduce the number of tantrums children have. Creating a way for your baby to speak with you will make him less frustrated.

Baby sign language can also help develop your child’s future speaking skills.  Children who learn baby sign language typically have a bigger vocabulary when they begin speaking than children who don’t sign.