Baby Sign Language: When Should I Start?
Guest Post by Misty Weaver
Chief Editor, Baby Sign Language
“How old should my baby be when I start Teaching Baby Sign Language?” This is a common question! Parents don’t want to start too soon, and some parents fear they’ve already missed their window of opportunity. In reality, baby sign language is not an exact science, and you can start Teaching Your Baby To Sign whenever you are ready!
Most experts recommend that you start introducing signs to your baby when she is six months old. However, there is certainly no harm in starting earlier than that. It’s mostly about expectations. If you expect your eight-week-old to start signing back, then yes, you will get frustrated. But if you just think, “Hey I’m going to play with my baby and throw some signs in just for fun,” then you can just think of it as a head start.
Now, if your baby is older than six months old, that does not mean you are too late. Many signing babies sign well into their toddler years, usually until they are comfortable speaking in complex sentences. There are many benefits to toddler signing. Signing reduces toddler tantrums and can be a lifesaver (or at least paper towel saver) when it comes time for potty training.
There are a few signs to look for that will indicate your baby is ready to start signing. First, she should be starting to develop her fine motor skills. So, if she can pick up small objects with her thumb and forefinger, then she is physically ready to start making the signs.
If your baby makes eye contact with you when you speak, this is an excellent sign that he is ready to take his communication to the next level. If you see evidence that he can understand what you are saying, e.g., you say you need a pillow and he toddles over and gets you one of his, then that is a great sign that he is ready (and also an indication that he is an absolute sweetheart!)
If your baby is pointing at objects and saying “eh!” or “ack!” as a way of telling you what he wants, then that is definitely a good sign!
So, if your baby is younger than six months, you have some time to get ready! You can take your time learning some signs and perusing the Baby Sign Language Dictionary .
Or, if your baby is older than six months, then you can get started whenever you’d like!
Remember, this is not an exact science, so just relax and try to make it fun! No matter what age your baby is when you start teaching him baby sign language, the benefits are numerous and the bonding you will experience will be well worth your efforts. Happy signing!