Most babies and toddlers don’t start using their first words until they are at least one year old and it is not until they are somewhere between 18 months and 2 years before they start putting together 2 words to form very simple sentences. Their understanding of their world develops much quicker than their language skills and this can lead to frustration and tantrums
Giving your baby a few baby signs to learn will allow them to be able to communicate with you and help reduce down these frustrations for you both. As a parent it’s just as frustrating for you as it is for your baby – you know they are trying to tell you something but they don’t know how to and you can’t understand them.
As your baby becomes a more effective communicator you will start to understand them more easily and will be able to be more responsive and sensitive to their needs and so increasing your bond with them.
Baby signing is simply an extension of normal gesturing that your baby will start to develop from about a year old: pointing, clapping, waving, putting their arms up to be picked up.
At Baby College we use the Makaton sign language. Makaton is designed to support spoken language – signs are used with speech, in spoken word order to help children and adults to communicate. In class you learn a few new signs each week and we also have a sign rhyme to help you remember a few more.
At home it is recommended that you:
- Use the sign or symbol for the important word in the sentence (only use one sign per sentence)
- Always remember to speak and sign at the same time
- Use clear, short sentences
- Remember to make eye contact and use facial expression, body language and gestures
- Use real objects and mime to give reference and meaning (sign ‘ball’ show them the ball and sign ‘ball’ again)
- You may need to guide your child’s hands to help them to make the sign
- Reward any attempt at communication and use the sign and symbol for ‘Good’ to give praise (thumbs up!)
- Babies’ fine motor skills are not as good as adults so be aware that your baby’s attempt at signing will not be as clear as yours so make sure you are alert for their hand gestures
Baby College posts weekly Sign of the Week videos so that you can practice your signing at home and if you are interested you can find them @babycollegeuk on Facebook or book online into our infant or toddler classes at www.babycollege.co.uk