Preparing your child to welcome a little brother or sister : advice for parents The arrival of a new baby within the family is an exciting and transformative...
Learn to sign
with your baby
Signing with your baby allows you to use gestures to illustrate common words such as eat, finished, sleep …
The idea, like in sign language, is to use your hands to communicate.
The use of signs can be useful for parents who want to facilitate communication with their baby for a period of time.
Be careful, however, not to confuse baby signs with sign language : indeed, the sign associated with speech is a tool that uses signs from French sign language, a language in its own right with its grammar, syntax, and his history. To find out more, you can consult the website of “Les Étoiles signantes”, which offers baby workshops in Lyon, Vienne and surroundings.
When to start signing with your baby ?
There is no specific and ideal age to start signing with your baby, however this tool helps facilitate communication before he speaks and at the start of learning to speak.
It can therefore begin as early as the child’s 3 months.
Of course, this age can vary depending on the babies and the parents’ wishes.
Why sign with your baby ?
During this period, parents’ frustration can be great. Indeed the baby understands several words, but is not necessarily able to say them. However, he is able to use simple gestures. For example, he points to or extends his arms.
Learning new signs can therefore help them communicate their needs and wants more clearly.
Initially, you will associate gestures with speech by repeating the same movements and the same words several times. By using these signs, your baby will imitate you and reproduce these actions on his own. He will therefore be able to communicate with you even before speaking. There are many books or maps to download to help you with this learning.
However, while the signs can be helpful in helping communication early on, learning them is not essential. More and more parents are signing with their babies. We were fortunate to have a testimonial from a mom who signed with her child.
Testimonial from a mother who learned to sign with her baby
Elodie, librarian and mother of a little boy named Oscar, learned sign language to communicate with her baby before he started to speak. She answers our questions in this short interview:
Coogli : how did you learn to sign?
Elodie : “I learned to sign on my own, using books on the subject. It was very useful, but now that Oscar is a talker, I don’t do it anymore, I forget…”
"I'm convinced that it helped him develop his language. He still kept a sign, the word 'work',
he uses Saturdays when he stays with his daddy and I go to work."
Coogli : Why did you learn to sign ? Was it easier to communicate or understand his needs ?
Elodie : Exactly, explaining to him the actions we were doing, where I was going, eating, sleeping, changing the diaper. Basic needs like asking for water. If he wanted anything more, he would sign the word “more” for me.
The visual is more concrete and it is important to explain the action at the same time as the sign, it allows to really understand the situation. I loved signing with Oscar but it’s true that since he talks a lot, I don’t do it anymore. But I’m sure it helped him develop his language. He still kept a sign, the word “work”, which he uses on Saturdays when he stays with his dad and I go to work. I think the sign helps him visualize why I’m leaving him alone with his father. “