A lot of parents ask me, “When should I teach my baby sign language?” or “When is the best time to teach my baby to sign?”
The best time to teach your baby is when you either need sign language to help your baby express his needs or wants or when you want to start teaching your baby to sign. There isn’t a magic age to begin.
You can start teaching your baby to sign before he or she can even see far enough to see your hands to help you get in the habit. You can start teaching your baby at 18 months or 2 years when you realize that your baby isn’t talking, and you want to give your baby a voice. You can also start any time in-between.
You are never too early or too late to start signing. You just simply need to start.
Some baby sign experts say that you should start at 6 months old. How ridiculous to throw out an arbitrary number. But seriously. It creates three false ideas: (1) you should wait to teach your baby to sign, (2) you are too late or you didn’t start on time, and (3) babies don’t sign before 6 months old.
1. Why wait to teach your baby to sign? The increased conversation and eye contact will only benefit your baby. It’s not as if deaf moms wait to sign to their children. Their babies also start communicating a year before babies of parents who are not deaf. There is no reason to wait if you want to start.
2. In all aspects of our life, a little voice tells us that we are too late. Let’s all stop listening to that voice and take action. You are not too late. If you see a reason that your baby should now start learning to sign, this is a great time to start.
3. It’s incorrect to think that babies don’t sign before 6 months old. Babies can sign before 6 months. Second of all, who cares if your baby doesn’t sign back at first. Really. Signing back is only part of the benefit of signing. There is lots of power in simply singing to your baby. Signing pushes you to talk more to your child and to make eye contact, which are both amazing for their his or her development.
Both of my sons started signing before 2 months old. I started with my first out of necessity. He would cry endlessly if there was even a drop of pee in his diaper. Before he turned 2 months old, he would hold both his hands in fists together right as his diaper became hot with pee. I was shocked. My second is a chunker and signed milk and pick me up. It may take longer for some babies to sign back, but you will never regret the time you spent signing while talking to your baby.
So there is no formula or magic number for when you should start singing to your baby. This is not an exact science. Whether you start signing to your baby when they are small or a toddler, take a moment to acknowledge yourself for starting to sign with your baby and how lucky your baby is to have YOU.
END OF THE LINE
You’ve reached the end of the blog post. While you’re learning, get a free printable emailed right to you to print out and put on your wall. It includes babies signing 10 most used signs.