Helpful hints for signing with your baby

Corbin signs apple

Corbin signs apple

Be consistent. Use the same sign the same way for the same action or object. This will help your baby become familiar with the sign and she will be able to sign it back to you sooner. Don’t kill yourself trying to learn an entire signed language in a week, however – concentrate on a few to a handful of signs and build from there.

Be happy. Frowning and bored voices will not make a baby eager to sign.

Be open to interpretation. Babies will not always make a sign correctly the first time they sign it, just like they won’t speak a word correctly the first time they speak it. Keep signing the word the correct way and your baby will soon grow more accurate.

Be open to suggestion. Sometimes a baby will create a sign for herself. Feel free to continue using it, and applaud her creativity. You can also easily adapt a made-up sign to a more formal sign (such as ASL). Acknowledge your child when she uses her invented sign and model back with the ASL version. She will soon “correct” herself.

Be full of praise. Act excited when the baby uses a sign correctly, and let your baby know how wonderful you think he is.

Be expressive. Use your face and body in addition to your hands. You should also say the word as you sign it. Alter the tone of your voice depending on the context. Make it sound fun and interesting.

Be varied. Not as in the sign, but as in the places you sign. Don’t just sign at home, for example, or when company’s around, or when you’re not in the public eye. Signing with your baby works best when it’s worked into your life as a natural means of communicaton instead of something you only do part of the time or only in certain places.

Be patient. Babies can take weeks or even months before they make their first sign. And sometimes even when they’ve done a sign correctly for days and even months they may stop using it. Keep on doing what you are doing and eventually they will get back on track.

Be prepared to be amazed. Your child will open your eyes to his world and it’s a great place to be!

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