What is baby signing?
Baby signing is a different way of communicating with your baby that is especially useful before babies have learnt how to speak.
There are about 30 signs that can be learnt and taught to your baby. You can start with the basics such as ‘milk’, ‘more’, ‘eat’, ‘drink’ and ‘no’. There is no grammar to learn like you would need to use British Sign Language, which is a full language. The signs are all easy and have been adapted from true sign languages for use by babies who have not yet got full motor control.
How did it start?
Baby signs started in America and the signs are derived from American Sign Language (ASL). Research in the 1980’s proved that babies could learn a few simple signs long before they could learn to speak. Parents often start classes at around 6 months whereas a child wouldn’t start to speak until they were about 12 to 18 months old. It was thought that it would be useful to apply this to new born babies so they could communicate before they had learnt how to speak.
What are the advantages?
You can communicate with your baby at a much earlier age. This creates a better bond with your baby and lessens the chance of your baby being frustrated because you do not understand them or what they want. This can obviously make parents’ lives easier!
Baby signing is incredibly popular now and parents who have tried this with their first baby usually find they use it with their later babies as it is so useful. Parents often report that their babies are calmer as a result. At what is often a difficult time for parents this can lessen the burden of parenting for new mothers and fathers.
Where can I learn?
There should be classes held in your local area. Information should be available from your midwife or local library. They are also books where you can teach yourself but it may be easier to go to a class.
So baby signing is a useful communication tool for you and your baby. It can create a stronger bond between you and it is also a lot of fun!