Until your infant learns to speak, you may spend a lot of time guessing about your child's wants and needs. Using a baby sign language chart or flash cards may help you improve your communication with your infant or toddler.
Sign Language and Children
It can be frustrating to take care of your infant or toddler before he can communicate with you. However, infants understand language long before they can speak, so it is possible that they might be able to communicate with you if they had the necessary tools. One tool is sign language, and it's even popular among parents with children who can hear. Sign language allows your child to learn to communicate his or her needs and can avoid some of the frustration that may occur when the child is unable to express his needs or wants. Some people feel that sign language may delay speech development, but research suggests that it can actually promote verbal language development in many children.
Teaching Your Child Sign Language
You can begin teaching your child sign language as early as six months of age, but babies can't typically use their hands well enough to form signs until eight months of age. They can be ready to sign by the time they are able to sit up alone. The muscles in their hands develop faster than the ones that they use for speaking. Many children will begin to sign back to you at this time.
- Good words to start with from your sign language charts are those associated with feeding or with bath time like milk or bath. Since these are activities that your infant frequently engages in, he will be more receptive to these signs.
- Most experts suggest that you use a standardized sign language like American Sign Language (ASL). This makes communication simpler and allows your child to be understood by other people who use sign language.
- Using a standardized language will allow you to be consistent when signing with your child.
- A variety of baby sign language dictionaries, charts, classes, flash cards, and programs are available to teach you and your child sign language. Sign language charts may be simpler and are generally less expensive.
Printable Baby Sign Language Basics Chart
A great place to start in teaching sign language is with a visual chart that features a few important words. This free baby sign language chart printable features five basic signs babies learn first including "more," "done," "drink," "eat," and "sleep." Each word is accompanied by a cartoon image of a small child using the sign. If you need help with downloading a printable, check out these helpful tips.
Printable Baby Sign Language Flash Cards
Once your baby is ready to start learning more signs, you can use these free printable sign language flash cards to teach and reinforce common signs. There are 16 different words for baby to learn including "Mom," "Dad," "cat," and "happy."
Charts for Baby Sign Language
There are many baby sign language charts that you can print from the Internet for free or order at a low cost. Sets of flashcards are also available online that can significantly increase both you and your child's vocabularies.
- Alphabet charts: This chart shows each letter of the manual alphabet. An example of an alphabet chart is available on Babies-and-Sign-Language.com.
- Basic gestures: This type of chart has the signs for objects like "bath," "milk," or "bed." These are basic signs that your child may need to use earlier in her communications. A sample basic chart is on SignWithMe.com.
- Colors and Numbers: Use the color and number sign language activity sheets to learn six basic colors and the numbers one through ten.
- More advanced gestures: These signs will increase your child's vocabulary so that he can carry on conversations as he gets older. An example of this chart is located on BabySignLanguage.com.
Getting the Best Use Out of These Charts
You can print out the charts or cards and tape them to the wall or refrigerator door for easy reference. However, don't forget to continue to use the signs that you have already taught your infant or they will be forgotten. This builds up your baby's vocabulary. Repetition and consistency is key to helping your infant learn the signs.
- Be sure to sign the activity before, during, or after the activity.
- Continue to use the sign until your baby signs it back.
- Move on to another sign.
Promote Communication With Sign Language
Sign language for babies can help improve communication between you and your child and may promote language development. For many parents, baby sign language is an important component of child-rearing. With the many types of sign language charts and programs, you can easily incorporate sign language into your daily lives.