Infant sign language has become such a common place activity in daycares and schools. Anyone can benefit from learning sign language and it is easy to teach. Infant sign language is easy to do and comes in handy when your infant is finding it difficult to communicate.
My neighbor’s daughter was hearing impaired from birth. She was a cutie-pie and the mother, Tia, was very patient. When I delivered my son, Tia brought over dinners and offered to baby sit. She was a great neighbor. When my son was about 6 months, he still wasn’t doing any baby babble. We were told he had fluid in his ears. Tia immediately went into action and taught my family several signs to use.
When he was a year old, he was still not hearing well. The daycare center was very accommodating with the signing. They actually had implemented it into their routine. His daycare was very helpful in continuing to use sign language for word commands such as eat, walk, sit, stand, more and less.
Fortunately, my son’s hearing loss was temporary due to allergies. We nursed him back to health at around age 2 but he still needed to use sign language because he was developmentally behind.
Here are 6 tips for you and the whole family to get the down low on infant sign language:
- Sign it like you see it. Use signs to describe common activities and objects in your infant’s world.
- Be very patient. Most infants can start learning sign language at 6 months but won’t use it to communicate for about two months afterward.
- Speak up and don’t stop talking to your child. Signing should not take the place of your infant learning new vocabulary.
- Repeat! Make signing a daily habit like brushing teeth.
- Don’t get frustrated if your infant doesn’t do it right. It’s a learning process and eventually your baby will mimic what you’re doing correctly.
- Make sure daycare, sitters, family or even neighbors are using the same sign for the same words.
These six tips are easy to follow and will get you on the right track to success. Teaching sign is important. Getting everyone on board is crucial. Once your baby begins to sign, everyone will be able to join in and understand the conversation.
If you have concerns about your infants hearing, more information can be found at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) www.nidcd.nih.gov
There are many resources available to parents of hearing impaired children. Talk to your pediatrician about any concerns you may have as soon as you suspect a problem.