How To Communicate With Your Baby

Communicating with your baby before your baby can talk is such a joy, and makes taking care of a baby so much easier!  Between all of the classes and books available on this topic it can seem a whole lot more complicated than it actually is!  This is one of those magical fixes (like babywearing!) that everyone can access.  It is truly just as simple as teaching your baby to wave bye-bye, which I’m pretty sure everyone teaches their baby to do!

Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

– Start with ‘motivational’ signs, signs that describe things that excite your baby.  Some ideas: cars, dogs, or ‘sister.’  It is tempting as a mom to stick to ‘helpful’ words like ‘hungry’ or ‘all-done.’  These signs will make your life so much easier, but your baby will more easily pick up a working sign after he gets the hang of signing with fun words.

– Introduce a handful of signs at first.  Integrate about 5 words into your daily routine.  This will show your baby that this is a way to communicate, versus starting with just 1 or 2 signs which may or may not grab his attention.

– Teaching your baby signs is really just as simple as teaching him to wave: you wave while you say ‘bye bye’ in a sing-song voice (this intuitive sign-song pitch actually helps your baby learn, so go with it even if you are hanging out with your hipster friends and feel like a dorky cliche).  Then you hold your baby’s hand and help hm to wave while you say ‘bye bye.’  Pretty soon, waving bye bye is your kids all-time favorite thing to do, right?  This is what will happen with your sign language!  If you teach your baby a ‘dog’ sign, he will LOVE to find a identify dogs.  It is so fun!

– Feel free to make up your own signs.  A book is great for ideas, but really anything works as long as you are consistent.  Be aware of your baby’s motor skills, and look for a gross interpretation of the sign that you are teaching.  And keep your signs simple.

Top concern: ‘I’m don’t want to teach my baby signs because I want him to be motivated to talk.’

Guess what?  Learning signs is actually linked to EARLY talking!  If your child is a late talker try introducing signs, and that might be just the bridge he needs to start talking.  The logic here is that when your baby learns to sign, he is used to communicating with other people and participating in language.  That is a great motivator for your baby to transition to talking, since he is used to being a part of the conversation.  It is also a great way to expand your baby’s vocabulary when he is already talking.  A baby that can say ‘ball’ and ‘mama’ can make good use of a sign for ‘elephant,’ something he may be motivated to communicate but cannot say yet.  Toddlers will often combine signs and words to form complex thoughts.

Good luck!  And share any tips or tricks!

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