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Signing for Small Ones

Duration: any

Age: baby, parent

Skill for Bub: Mind builder


Help your baby communicate her needs before she is able to talk.

If you feel exasperated listening to your baby cry, think about how frustrated she must feel not being able to tell you what’s the matter! Teaching your child sign language can help her communicate her needs without her having to turn on the tears. Before you sign up for a formal course — or invest in books on the subject — get your feet wet with these simple techniques.

Select two to three words or phrases that express a request such as: “more,” “yes,” “no,” “bye-bye,” “I’m hungry,” or “I’m thirsty.” Perform a simple hand sign every time you say the corresponding word. For example, move your hands like lobster claws when you say the word “more.”

Or point to your mouth when you say, “I’m hungry.” The point is to choose a sign that is easy for your child to imitate and remember. Once your child has these signs down, you can build up her vocabulary by adding a few more words at a time.