Baby Sign Language

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By the time babies reach an age where they understand what they're being told, they still can't speak, respond or express themselves. This is very frustrating for young children. Imagine yourself in their shoes, being talked to all day and not being able to respond to anything. Not very funny, is it?

Unfortunately, at that age, they often express their frustration by shouting and crying. 

So why not set up another means of communication other than talking?

Is baby sign language really necessary?

An American study has shown that children of deaf and/or hard of hearing parents have a more developed ability to communicate, thanks to precise gestures to make themselves understood. 

Children born to hearing parents who do not use these gestures begin to communicate with words around the age of one and a half years. It depends on each child, sometimes it is much later.

When to start signing with your baby?

There is no age to learn how to sign. You can start very early to get used to it yourself. It's only from 6-7 months that babies develop memory skills.

You can start signing at 10 months, at 18 months it doesn't matter. Adapt sign language to your baby's age. For example, expressing emotions around your baby's 18 months.

The important thing is that you, as a parent, want to.

When will my baby be able to sign?

Around 8 - 10 months of age, your baby will be able to make intentional gestures when his motor skills are well developed.

The earlier you start, the more your baby will have seen your signs, the more grounded it will be. There's no point in starting at 2 months either, your baby won't be able to understand you and you'll lose patience.

There's always a lapse of time between when you start signing and when your baby makes his first signs.

These first signs won't be very precise, and they'll be a bit messy. Your baby will be in a learning phase, a phase of improvement. Like language, first attempts are never perfect. It comes with encouragement and practice.

Do you need to know sign language to sign with your baby?

Absolutely not. Sign language is a language in its own right where every word in a sentence must be signed, conjugated and punctuated.

With your baby, you'll only be signing words that are important to her learning. You don't need to learn the whole sign language to do this.

Of course, the signs are taken from French sign language, but to make you understand your baby, and to understand him, only a few words from your daily life will be useful.

Example: We are going to drink the bottle. 

You will only sign the word "to drink" by signing "to eat": 

sign language eat

How do I learn baby sign language?

This method of dialogue is becoming more and more widespread in France and everywhere else. There are therefore more and more workshops to learn this language.

Find out more from nurseries.

You can also get books about learning baby sign language.

A few tips to make this method a real moment of complicity and sharing:

Tip #1

Dear parents, be patient. Not everything happens overnight. It can be learned and it can take time.

Tip #2

Start signing 2 - 3 words at the beginning to avoid confusion.

Prefer everyday words that will help you to make yourself understood and especially to understand him/her when he/she knows how to use them, such as: eating, sleeping, changing the diaper...

Tip #3

Don't ban the use of speech. Even when you sign, put words to your gestures. That way, he'll know that a word is associated with a gesture. This will help them learn to speak.

Tip #4 

Also use sign language when you read stories. If there are important words from your everyday life that you already sign, consider using them in stories. Also show pictures and use the right words and gestures on each drawing.

Be careful not to overwhelm them with new signs. Add a sign each time the previous signs are acquired.

A child who signs early is a child who will speak early.

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