Sunday, July 24, 2011

When and How to Start Signing

I see this question a lot, "When should I start signing with my baby? She's 11 months old, is it too late?"

The best time to start signing with your son is today! I've had babies in my classes as young as three weeks old and as old as 22 months. Most babies are capable of signing back their first signs between 7 and 11 months of age.  Start now!

You want to start with signs for words that are really motivating for your son.  For my son that was toy and play signs; for my daughter that was food signs...and more food signs.  Sign at your comfortable level, e.g., start with 5-6 signs for things they really like and when you are comfortable with them add more!

Also use another 5-6 signs for frequently occuring activities, things that you do every day, a few times a day. For example, these may include the signs for "eat", "change", "play", "bath" and "sleep". Also, use these and add more signs for activities as you get more comfortable using more signs.
Also, always sign the word when you sign. That way they are both seeing and hearing the word. My son signed at 9 months and my daughter signed her first sign at 11 months so all babies are different as to when that first sign comes along. Both of my little ones had well over 80 words by the time they were 18 months old!

Sara Bingham is the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book. WeeHands is the world's leading children's sign language and language development program for babies, toddlers and preschool children.

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