Your child will develop their language from you, their siblings and their interactions with others around them and other visual and sound stimuli. But it’s a long process and communication can be challenging. They start their language development from birth and this continues into their early years of education. During the first few years of their life it can be difficult to understand what baby needs and this can be equally frustrating for parent and baby. But baby signing can help.

We’d like to welcome our guest writers Sing and Sign who are here to talk to us about baby signing and how it can help you to better understand your baby’s needs before they can voice it.

Before babies can speak, they gesture.

Babies will look at something they are interested in, point and reach for it; they will clap their hands and by around 6 months will be able to pick up an item and put it in their mouth.

baby point

Before baby can talk, they gesture by pointing.

So if babies can already achieve all of these things, why sign?

Baby signing is the art of accompanying specific key words or phrases with a gesture. We ensure our signs are simple and easy to use and teach our families through song and rhyme, repetition, anticipation and praise. Sing and Sign families continue signing with their babies at home and baby will start to sign with them.

Giving babies tools to communicate before speech is an amazing gift. Sometimes our babies choose to tell us they have seen a dog or a bird and provide commentary on their day and other times, they solve problems and questions before we realise we needed an answer. For example, your baby is reaching for something up high. You can’t work out what for and baby signs “eat”; a crying baby handed back to daddy to be calmed signs “milk” to indicate their hunger, rather than the parents trying to calm a baby who they didn’t think was due a feed; an ominous sound accompanied by a “change nappy” sign!

The benefits of baby signing are limitless. Our baby and toddler’s signing will naturally drop away as they begin to speak and have their words understood but even a few years down the line, you may find an emotional child signing “ouch” or “sorry” when the words are too difficult to say.

It can help you to know when your baby is hungry and they can ask for their milk.

When can you introduce baby to signing?

Sing and Sign offer classes for babies from 4 weeks to 2 years. Our core start age for babies is 6 – 12 months usually based on when the family are ready to start attending classes!

We would always say that the best way to learn is in a small class. At Sing and Sign we limit our class size at 12 families meaning that we can all be heard and interact, and the babies are afforded 1:1 attention with their teacher and that it’s easy to ask any questions. We also support our families with online membership where we have resources such as films, a “video dictionary”, songs, interactive games, reminders and much more. We also have story books, CDs and downloadable class music and DVDS!

A couple of easy signs to start you off with

Hold your hand up and then clench and unclench your first whilst saying “milk”

Put the fingers of one hand together and tap the corner of your mouth whilst saying “eat”

Make a fist. Bring down your flat other hand on top if it whilst saying “more”

Thank you to Sing and Sign for taking the time to tell us a little more about baby signing. We’re very grateful to you for providing us with some helpful and essential signs to help get us started too. We hope that you’ve found this piece insightful too. If you’ve any experience of baby signing or have been inspired by this piece, we’d love to hear from you! Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

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