Hannah and I are both learning sign language as we go. A few months ago the local library hosted an introductory class about using signs with babies that was full of great information. Since then, I’ve used the internet to find the signs that we incorporate into our daily life. I try to make it as simple as possible for both of us by only introducing one new sign at a time. I know that she could learn more, but my head is already spinning from all the work two babies can create so I’m taking it easy on myself.
The class setting is nice because you’ll learn songs and get demonstrations of how to sign while you read certain books. If you’re interested in signing with your baby, but aren’t able to attend classes, it’s very easy to do on your own. You can find a video of almost every sign with a quick google search (i.e. ASL sign for Apple.) Another option is to borrow a book from the library of popular baby signs. There are even Apps for the iPhone or iPad to help categorize the signs that you’ll use the most with your baby. I would recommend teaching “all done,” “more,” and “night night.” From that point, the sky is the limit to what you and your baby will find interesting. Try animal names, types of food, colors, and signs for family members. Babies can start to recognize that you are signing when they are as young as 6 months. Early learners may start to sign back by 9 months. Depending on how frequently you use the word, toddlers can learn to use signs in a matter of days.
The two most important things I learned in class were to always say the word as I sign it and to keep my signs consistent. That means that when she starts to make a sign, I should continue to do it the correct way even if it looks cuter her way. She recognizes quite a few of my signs, but she understands so many words that sign language is really more of a way for her to communicate to me. Sometimes her signs are very clear, but other times I have to pay close attention to her hand motions to pick them up. For instance, she uses the sign for “more” to indicate almost anything. She’ll ask for food, toys, to move somewhere else, or when she sees Grandma (since Grandma brings food a lot.)
To read more about how I’m using sign language with Hannah, check out A Sign of Success.