This post was contributed by Leah of Simple. Home. Blessings.
Basic Baby Signs & A Baby Sign Language Chart
If you are like me as a mom, you cherish the littlest moments with your sweet child and savor each goo and gah. But, you often struggle when it comes to the not-so sweet moments. The grunts and the growls, the screams and screeches are likely the last thing you were looking forward to while gently caressing your pregnant tummy and dreaming of mommy-hood. The inability of our little ones to fully communicate what is going on in their heads can lead to various outbursts that look like tantrums or frustration. But sometimes it is the earliest form of communication for them – we just can’t quite understand them. That is why I am so thankful for baby sign language. And that’s why I’ve made this baby sign language chart for you!
I am not a child development expert and I have no credentials other than being a mom, but I highly recommend learning some very basic baby signs and teaching them to your little ones, starting at a very early age. I think some people can go a little overboard on the baby sign thing, teaching an entire vocabulary of signs to their babies. I honestly do not need my baby to give me a dissertation in hand signals, I just want to know their basic needs. So here are the top 5 baby signs we use with our little ones (along with how and when to introduce them).
5 Must-Know Must-Show Baby Signs (+ How and When to Use Them)
We started using this sign as early as possible. We use it at the end of diaper changes (while we have her undivided attention), at the end of meals, when concluding an activity, and sometimes (rarely and early) to attempt to stop an inappropriate behavior. We actually made up our own sign for this: simply wipe your hands once or twice (like you are finished with a dusty job and are getting the dust off your hands). OR: hold both hands up at your sides palms facing out and shake gently back and forth.
This is almost an involuntary thing in our house, so I just think it helps communicate to our little one that we would like to hold her. But, if shown to your wee one at a very early age, she will start to lift her arms up to you when you do it. It is not only heart-melting, but is an early indication of a connection made! All you do is hold your hand at your sides and fold them in toward you.
We started showing this sign the very first time our babies were given table food. It is the most important sign! At first you might feel it is a futile thing to do each time you give them a bite, but the repetition makes all the difference. You will notice their head turns toward the spoon and all focus in on the food as soon as you say and show the sign. It takes some time for babies to make the transition from watching you sign to doing the sign themselves. You will find they will start to do it around the same time they start clapping. Once they get it, you will see it often (especially if you have an enthusiastic eater) and you may notice they use it while playing too (great for communication away from the dinner table!). To do it: Hold first two fingers and thumbs on each hand together and tap together once or twice.
We introduced this sign to our first child around the time she turned one and she made the quick connection to the fact that this was the “magic word.” When she did the sign, she got the prize! She learned “please” in less than a week because of the wonderfully productive results. We used it primarily at the dinner table at first, but it soon made the transition to play, reading, and other activities. It is baby’s first etiquette lesson! To do the sign: hold your hand flat in front of your chest and move it in a circular motion.
Oh! This one is so important for babies who are starting to explore and are becoming more independent. We taught this one around 14 months old (but we could have had it earlier!) and we found it useful in play and basic everyday activities. This is the tantrum avoider! You may notice your little one is struggling with opening something, climbing on the couch, doing an activity their motor skills aren’t quite ready for. And then you start to see them get that frustrated look and then you start hearing exasperated noises (from a low growl to a high-pitched scream). Teach them to ask for help with their hands and say, “Ask for help before you get frustrated.” It will make all the difference in the world! To do it: Hold one hand in front of your body, palm up. Place other hand in a fist, with thumb up over other hand and push both hands up.
This small list of signs are the must know for moms, and I think you will find they facilitate communication with your little ones. You can find out what your baby is thinking and more importantly what she needs! For five tips for making baby sign language work for you, please click over to this post on my blog, Simple.Home.Blessings.
Leah is the homemaker and mama behind Simple. Home. Blessings. She loves seeing the spark in her children’s eyes as they discover and explore new things. She is passionate about reading and creates lots of activities based on favorite books. She also writes about other topics related to homemaking.
I have always talked about wanting to teach my babies sign language but have never followed through. But Leah makes it seem so simple. I love the way she gets right to the point and just shows us five important first signs; much less intimidating than those huge baby sign books. I think I’m going to start with “MORE” and “HELP” and give it a shot with J.C. Thanks, Leah!
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