Tips for Signing with Your Baby
 
Based on an interview with
Brandy Wentzler, Freelance Sign Language Interpreter, Winona, MN

  • 1. Chances are your older baby already uses sign language to communicate—waving goodbye, reaching up to be picked up, and blowing kisses are all “signs.”
  • 2. Play games like pattycake with your younger baby as a way to get her focused on your hands. Babies can start learning sign language at about 8 months, but it might take them longer to make the signs themselves, depending on how much control they have with their hands.
  • 3. Keep it simple—start with words that help your baby let you know what she needs, like help, up, more, drink, eat.
  • 4. Show your older baby the sign you would like him to make by doing the sign yourself and then manipulating his hands to make the sign.
  • 5. The dinner table is a great place to practice signs like for more, drink, eat, and all done.
  • 6. Be patient. Your baby might babble in sign language and play with the signs before she actually uses a sign to express a desire.
  • 7. It’s ok to make up your own signs for things. Don’t worry that you are teaching sign language incorrectly.
  • 8. Don’t worry that sign language will slow down your baby’s ability to speak. Parents who have signed with their babies say that their babies don’t speak later than other babies. They say that their babies can tell them what they need sooner.
  • 9. Visual learning of the signs can help babies learn to be observant.
  • 10. Have Fun!
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