Sign Language Basics You Can Teach Your Child

For an adult, learning sign language can seem like a daunting task. For babies however, using nonverbal communication is essential to their survival. By eight months old, babies are using gestures like pointing or rubbing their eyes to communicate their needs. This means it’s a great time to introduce some basic sign language skills to your baby. Not only will they be able to communicate with you more effectively, if they encounter sign language in the world one day, they will be better equipped to handle it.

More
This is a great sign to teach your baby–especially around the time they start eating solid foods. You can give your baby a few bites of their favorite food, and when they begin to ask for more, introduce the sign for more. Once they correctly do the sign, reward them with a happy voice and more food. The sign for “more” is fairly easy. Pinch the tips of your fingers together on both hands, and then touch your hands together. Before you know it, your child will be signing “more!”

All Done
Have you ever spent a good portion of your day cleaning food off the floor? Yeah, we’ve all been there. Teaching your baby to sign “all done” can be great for getting them to tell you when they’ve finished, instead of just throwing the food on the floor or crying. Start with your hands up flat and your palms facing you. Then simply flip your palms outward and say “all done.” You can start by doing this once you notice your child doesn’t seem hungry anymore, and follow it up by taking the plate away.

Help
It’s no secret that babies need our help a lot. They communicate that need in a variety of different ways. In some situations, it’s important we understand that our baby needs us right away. That’s why teaching the “help” sign is great for early learners. For this sign, present one hand flat out with your palm up. Then make a fist with your other hand and place it on your upturned palm. This simple sign could save you a lot of stress.

The part of the brain that deals with language development is really solidified during the first few years of life. Introducing your baby to sign language, even just the basics, at this point in their lives can have many benefits. Aside from clearly communicating with you, it’ll set them up to continue learning the language as they get older.