You’ve decided to teach your baby a tool to help her communicate before she can speak. Great! But where do you start?
Choose a sign. The first place to go is an online dictionary.
Most parents choose a sign that involves eating, such as milk, eat, drink, or more. These types of signs are more need-based and will allow your child to request things he or she may need. Other examples of need-based signs are change (diaper), hot/cold, help, and bed/sleep.
Choose one sign or choose several – whatever your comfort level is.
Show your child the sign (or signs) during an activity (for example, during nursing, if you choose to begin with milk, or as you’re spooning baby cereal in the general direction of your baby’s mouth, if you choose to begin with eat).
Use the sign(s) before or during the activity, and show your baby the sign every time you do the activity. Consistency is the key.
Use your chosen sign(s) until your baby begins to sign back to you, then choose another sign and start the process over again – but don’t drop the sign(s) your baby already knows. Once you begin adding signs like this you will find your sign vocabulary really grows and you truly are learning right along with your baby.
The more signs your baby knows, the easier it will be for him to pick them up – especially once your baby realizes that he can get his needs taken care of by using signs!
See our Helpful Hints section for more information on the signing process.