Many parents start out signing with their babies at an early age, but others don’t find out about the wonders of signing with babies until their children are nearly toddlers (as in my case). I think that every child responds differently to signs, but there are a few common signs that children love from an early age.
If you start out at 6 or 7 months of age, there are a number of wonderful signs to begin signing with your baby. Here are my recommendations:
- Favorite finger food (like bread)
- Pets (like dog, cat, fish, etc.)
If you start out at a later age, such as 12 or 14 months, the above are all great suggestions also, but you can use signs with an older baby that a younger baby might not yet be interested in:
- Animals (like rabbit, zebra, lion, monkey, bear, etc.)
If you do not know how to do these signs, look them up at this website.
The key to beginning signing to a toddler is to observe him or her for a few hours (or days) and see what the toddler is really interested in. Toddlers are busy people and it may seem that he or she is really interested in everything. Just choose a couple of things to begin with (maybe a few from both lists above) and see how fast he or she picks it up.
Establishing a signing relationship is the same for all age groups. When your baby or toddler is wanting something or doing something, show your child the sign for it. Your child will begin to associate the sign with the thing he or she wants or needs and will soon sign back to you.
I believe that careful observation by parents who are signing with their baby is essential to success. By noticing what your baby is most interested in, you will have a child who quickly learns how to ask for what he or she needs. And once your baby realizes that signing will get what he wants and needs, he’ll be eager to learn more signs.