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Good day, readers! Please welcome Misty Weaver and her guest post about baby sign language. I used a few signs with the boys when they were little and boy was it handy!

Baby Signing is an easy and fun way to communicate with your pre-verbal child. A simplified version of American Sign Language (ASL), it is easy to learn and really effective. To make a start, all you need to do is learn a few simple signs (see below for my favorite starter signs). When you’re starting out with baby sign language, it’s best to begin with signs you can use on a daily basis. Signs like as Mommy, Daddy, and Milk are great. Your baby will learn the sign by watching you, so practice is very important.

How To Start Signing To Your Baby
You need to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby or use the object you are signing. As well as using the signs, it’s important to say the word that goes with the sign clearly, making good eye contact. Remember – baby sign language is used in this way as a ‘stepping stone’ to full speech, not as a replacement for it. Practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident about what you are doing.

Repetition Is The Key
Repetition is the key to baby sign language. Make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. You will need to find ways to build the signs into your daily routine so that eventually signing becomes second-nature. Your baby will learn the signs through repetition (and so will you), and eventually it will be natural for him to want to sign back.

Be Patient With Your Baby And With Yourself
Don’t expect too much too soon. Your baby is unlikely to be signing for more milk if he is only 4 months old and you’ve been signing with him for a week! Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of baby sign language, found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at six months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.

How We Use Baby Sign Language At Bedtime
When you are starting off it can help to pick a particular situation to practice your baby sign language, for example mealtimes (signs for food are very interesting for young children), or play, or emotions such as happy and sad. We began by using Baby Sign Language at bedtime. Bedtime is a good time for signing as it is less stimulating for a baby to watch Mommy sign than to listen to Mommy talk! We started by teaching our baby the sign for tired (see below). This was easy – we just waited until he started to rub his eyes, then signed Tired while yawning. He picked this up fairly quickly, and it was wonderful the first time he signed to us that he was tired. Then we moved on to Bath, Bed and Sleep. It’s important to use the signs as part of a good bedtime routine, and we have certainly found that signing has helped keep bedtimes calm and stress-free.

Some Signs To Get You Started:

MOMMY: To make the sign for Mommy, extend and spread your fingers apart on your right hand. With your little finger facing forwards, tap your thumb on your chin.

DADDY: To make the sign for Daddy, extend and spread out the fingers on your right hand, then tap your hand on your forehead with your thumb. This is similar to the sign for Mommy but done higher up the head.

Tired: The first step is to notice when baby is tired. When it is time to begin the bedtime routine, make the sign for Tired. To sign Tired, extend your fingers and hold them together. Start with your fingers touching your chest, with your elbows up. Drop your elbows down. It is as if you are so tired you cannot keep holding your arms up.

This guest post is brought to you by Baby Sign Language . To learn more signs visit the Baby Sign Language Dictionary.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to teach their baby sign language.