Well, you are thinking about sharing sign language with your baby? Great!
Now, where to start? Hopefully I’ve caught you before you’ve gone all the trouble.
Factually baby signs language is unbelievably simple. You can learn one sign at a time, along with your baby. I am here to guide as always but this just to warm you up.
To get started, take baby steps, pun intended. If you are beginning with a young baby a great place to start is MILK. While a cry usually means hunger, wouldn’t it be great to give your baby milk before the crying? Wouldn’t it be great if your baby knew of more than one way to ask for milk?
The sign for milk is simple, and possible with a baby’s fine motor skills: Holding your hand perpendicular to the floor, make a fist, then open it a little as if you are holding a bottle, then squeeze into a fist again. Repeat opening and closing of your hand several times. If you are familiar with American Sign Language, then it is helpful to know that the sign for “milk” is simply alternating between the sign for the letter “s” and the sign for the letter “c.”
So, now you know how to sign for milk, but what about your baby?
Every time you say milk, or think milk, sign milk. When you would normally ask your baby, “Are you hungry?” add in “Would you like some milk?” and make the sign for milk. Before you nurse, tell your baby, “Here comes the milk!” and sign “milk.” For many babies, it only takes a few days of this before they will start to make the sign when you do. Then it is only a matter of time before they make the sign on their own.
As for breastfed mother like me, I used the very same sign too indicating the same meaning & gesture. In my mind, I don't want my baby to be confused.Well, this is up to you to decide.
And if it takes more than a few days, or several months even, don’t get frustrated. Some babies are just stubborn and don’t see the need for signing. Your baby might just give you the look that means 'whatever mom', but the time will come when your baby will want milk and will want it NOW! Then your baby suddenly know the sign.
Seeing your baby sign for the first time will give you an overwhelming sense of joy and connection with your child. It also feels like quite an accomplishment, and you will be ready to add in other basic signs like: eat, more, all done, help, and so on.
Getting started is definitely the hardest part, but it is certainly worth it. Every second spent communicating with your baby is a second well spent. Take it from me as I witnessed it to both my boys whom one already passed the signed phase and just celebrated his fourth birthday. And, the youngest who is soon to celebrate his first birthday, signing away happily PLUS TALKING too. So, you see, never ever state signing slow down the talking department up there. You are giving extra opportunity and skills to your child instead. Not to mention communication made at ease.