When starting to teach Baby Sign Language it is best to pick a few simple signs to begin with. The first signs to teach are ones which are really interesting and exciting to your baby – Mommy and Daddy are great starter signs, along with Milk and More.
* DADDY: To make the sign for Daddy, extend and spread out the fingers on your right hand, then tap your hand on your forehead with your thumb. This is similar to the sign for Mommy but done higher up the head.
* MILK: The sign for Milk is a lot like the action of milking a cow without the up and down motion. Just pretend you are just squeezing the cow’s udder. Make both hands into a fist, relax and repeat. Milk.
* MORE: To make the sign for More, make an O shape with each hand by meeting your fingers and thumbs. Bring your hands together and separate them a few times. More.
How To Teach Your First Signs
Practice the signs yourself first so you are confident. It is important to say the word that goes with the sign at the same time, making good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Say and make the signs regularly every day. Sign when your baby is alert and not too fussy or tired. Be sure to make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. Babies learn through repetition. With enough exposure to a sign, and repetition of it, in a few months your baby will begin to use the signs herself.
Expanding Your Vocabulary After Teaching Your First Signs
When you have mastered the signs above you can begin to introduce new ones. Try to limit new signs to those of a similar type – foods, for example, or colors, or shapes. Only introduce a few new signs at a time, and repeat each new sign for a few weeks before moving on to another.
Remember to continue to use the signs you and baby have already learned. It is easy to forget to use a sign when you are focusing on a new one, but it’s important to build upon what you already know and to encourage your baby to practice the basics. By the age of seven or eight months, many babies who have been signing for over three months have a repertoire of six to eight words.
Be Patient When Teaching Your First Signs
Remember – don’t expect too much too soon from your baby (or from yourself). Baby is unlikely to be signing More Milk if you’ve only been signing for a couple of weeks! Be patient and practice often, and your repertoire will grow together in no time.
For more signs visit our Baby Sign Language Dictionary.