Hello there again, I am Heather Avul and I teach baby signing in the UK with TinyTalk and I love what I do.
This week I am going to explain how to start signing with your baby. I have a video clip from my Tinytalk Teacher I used to go to when my son (now nearly five years old) was a baby. You can start signing to your child at any age so I am going to explain how to sign to a younger and older baby. For a younger baby it is good to start with just a few signs, particularly those that are really important to the baby’s everyday life. The sign for milk is very important and may be the one you can choose to start with. Out first class is more geared towards a weaned baby, but for those signing from birth I would choose “milk, more, mummy, daddy, all gone, and nappy [aka: diaper in US]”. In TinyTalk, we use ASL for milk and BSL for every other sign in the curriculum because we are in the UK. The BSL sign for milk is a tad difficult and a baby as young as 6 months old can sign milk using the ASL version. Practice signing milk by opening and closing your dominant hand as if you’re are milking a cow.
My colleague Jen Stanbrook, who has her own blog “Sign and the City”, has kindly let me use her YouTube clip which explains about signing with your baby and also showcases some signs we use to sing along to Incey Wincey Spider.
I hope you enjoyed that clip. I always do. At Christmas time I will post my clip of “When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney” but not today as it is June.
So you see how we can sign and also talk to our little ones. Remember to use these signs every day and every time you give your baby milk use the sign and talk as well. If you have a Deaf baby still talk as your baby will learn the sign and the lip pattern. It is also very important to try and understand your baby's body language and tune in with your baby. I will invite a dear friend soon called Vivien Sable who was bought up by a Deaf mummy and a hearing father and has truly inspired me as I love baby signing but she has also introduced me to mirroring and copying but I will let her explain that on a future week. So yes, do talk as you sign, keep it relaxed and fun and also sign during, just before, or after the meaning of the sign. For instance, say “Would you like some milk?”, sign milk as you talk, and then offer some milk. The same if using the nappy sign, you could say for instance “I am going to change your nappy” and sign nappy. It is important to talk to your baby all of the time.
The more people sign with your baby, the better. Don’t be shy. You can sign when you are shopping although perhaps it might be out of context if you are only using milk tee hee but as your baby gets older and you introduce new signs you can sign for apples, bananas, oranges, etc. and make the trip super fun.
With older babies and toddlers follow their lead. If they point to something find out what the sign is for that and show it to him or her. You will find a one year old will want to communicate more with you and all those signs learned in that first year will really come in handy. With attempts of speech and signing we are more likely to understand our child's wants and needs. Those signs will be used and you will be very surprised that he or she was paying attention when you showed him or her the sign for grape or whatever they are trying to ask or tell you.
Singing nursery rhymes and action songs is great and also reading books and signing just like my signed story I demonstrated a couple of weeks back.
So go on and start signing with your baby. Do have fun and do let me know how it goes.
I am a mother of 4, teach baby signing and also BSL level 2 qualified, love TKD and much more.