Baby Signing For Dummies book cover

Baby Signing For Dummies

By: Jennifer Watson Published: 10-02-2006

Have you thought about signing with your baby or toddler? Parents and caregivers are discovering the benefits of using American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with children long before they can speak. Some studies show that signing babies talk sooner, have larger vocabularies, and have fewer tantrums!

Baby Signing For Dummies gives you the skills to connect in a meaningful way with your hearing baby or toddler. Packed with more than 150 illustrated signs, this friendly, easy-to-follow guide shows you how to use simple hand gestures and baby-specific signing techniques to start interacting with your baby. Every sign is accompanied by step-by-step directions and an illustration—from meeting and greeting, people, and mealtime signs to clothes, animals, outdoor signs, and, of course, bath time and bedtime. You’ll discover how to:

  • Introduce signs to your baby
  • Incorporate signing into daily life
  • Make everyday events easier with signs
  • Overcome stumbling blocks
  • Decrease fussing and crying through signing
  • Help your baby sign combinations of words
  • Keep your baby safe with signing
  • Get the whole family involved
  • Find outside help (Web sites, videos, and signing schools and courses)

Complete with illustrations of the entire ASL alphabet, signing dos and don’ts, and ten songs to sign along with, Baby Signing For Dummies is the key to enhancing communication with your child and increasing his/her intelligence in a simple, fun, and rewarding way!

Articles From Baby Signing For Dummies

8 results
8 results
Looking at Baby Signs for a Few Everyday Needs

Article / Updated 01-23-2017

Your baby or toddler probably has a few things on his mind regularly, like "What's that in my diaper?" "It's time for a potty visit!" "Where's my cup?", "I'm hungry!" or "I need a drink!" The simple signs in this article relate to those things and will get you and your baby on the right track with two-way communication beyond "waaaaaah!" Good luck. Diaper One of the things babies often fuss about is the condition of their diapers. How fantastic would it be to have your baby sign DIAPER before she starts screaming? It is possible, so regularly talk with your child about the condition of her diaper while simultaneously signing the magic word like this: 1. Make an L with both hands by pointing your index fingers up and holding your thumbs out to the side. 2. On both hands, close your index finger and thumb together. 3. Place your hands near the top of where a diaper would be, around the waist area. 4. Open and close your fingers and thumbs two or three times (see Figure 1). Figure 1: Change my DIAPER, please. Potty Signing for a DIAPER change is a wonderful thing, but signing for the POTTY is even better. Just think, no more diapers to clean up. Note that if your baby is too young to use the potty yet, you can always introduce the sign anyway, just so baby can hear the word and see the sign regularly. And if baby has a big brother, regularly say and sign POTTY with big brother while in the baby's presence to keep driving home the point of the potty. In other words, in this particular case it's okay to have a potty mouth. Say and sign POTTY all the time. The payoff down the road is huge. Here's how to walk the walk and sign the sign: 1. Make a fist. 2. While your hand is still in a fist, make an ASL letter T by placing your thumb between your index and middle fingers. 3. Shake your hand back and forth a few times (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Time to go POTTY. Cup CUP is one of those handy multipurpose signs — useful for all types of cup situations. The CUP sign will come in handy during your little one's transition from baby bottle to big-boy cup. And the same CUP sign can be used for communication when your little one is trying to get into Mommy or Daddy's cup. Additionally, your baby can use the CUP sign to actually tell you when he's thirsty and wants his cup. 1. Form the ASL letter C by rounding your fingers and thumb. In other words, make an O with your fingers and thumb and then open up a little space between them. 2. Place your C hand on your opposite hand's open palm (see Figure 3). Figure 3: May I have my CUP? Eat So you're sitting on your last nerve in the playroom while Mighty Lungs is screaming at the top of his lungs beside you. You simply can't figure out what he wants. He swats away his teddy bear and favorite toys when you offer them up. He's not sitting in a poopy diaper. He's not cold and doesn't have a boo-boo. What? What? You notice that he stops his waaaahs as he spots a Cheerio on the floor. Before you can intervene, he picks it up and pops it in his mouth. Momentary bliss and enchantment ensue as he looks around for more yummy floor nuggets, but upon finding none, he starts screaming again. Duh. You realize that he's probably hungry, so you scoop him up and head straight to the kitchen for a snack. There's an easier way. The sign for EAT will help your baby tell you when he wants to eat so that you won't have to decipher screaming. The sign is simple to make, like this: 1. Make a flat-O hand shape by first forming an O with your fingers and thumb and then flattening them out so that they look like a deflated balloon. 2. Touch your fingertips to your mouth repeatedly (see Figure 4). Figure 4: I'm ready to EAT! As you're first introducing a new sign to your baby, repeat it often. For example, use the sign for EAT any time you're talking to your baby about food, and specifically sign EAT every time you say the word: "Are you hungry? Do you want to EAT?", "Would you like to EAT some bananas?", or "Mommy is EATing, do you want to EAT, too?" Drink No matter what her preference — milk, juice, or water — when she wants her DRINK, she wants it now. Show her how to sign DRINK to get what she wants more quickly and with a lot less frustration: 1. Form an ASL C with one hand as if you're holding a drink. 2. Mimic drinking by bringing your hand to your mouth and tilting it several times (see Figure 5). Figure 5: A DRINK sure would be nice right about now.

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Baby Signing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Baby signing builds a bridge between you and your hearing baby or toddler. When baby knows how to sign before he or she can speak, it reduces frustration all around. Teach your child some basic signs for family, animals, mealtimes, and the outside world.

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Exploring Why Baby Isn't Signing Back

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Baby is busy right now. She's learning to sit up, crawl, and walk — or some combination thereof. Perhaps he has a lot on his mind, and his attention may be focused elsewhere. If your baby isn't signing back, consider the following reasons. Maybe you're overwhelming baby with too many signs Processing lots of signs at once is more than baby's brain can handle. You should never be working on more than a handful of new signs at any given time. What's a new sign? Any sign that she hasn't signed back yet. So if you're just beginning, work on only a few initial signs. If you've been at it a little while, and baby has signed a few signs back to you, work on those signs plus a handful of new ones. This method is how, over time, baby builds her sign vocabulary — not by being bombarded with a sign for everything in her world. Maybe the signs you're using aren't for the things that excite and interest baby The signs you're introducing to your baby must also be ones he's interested in. He may not be crazy about stars right now, for example. In fact, depending on his age, his vision may not even be developed enough to differentiate stars from the rest of the night sky. So why should he sign STAR? Many babies are fascinated by the light when they looked up toward the ceiling. Perhaps the sign for LIGHT is a better fit for their interests. Pay attention to your little one, and he'll reveal his current passions to you. Maybe baby is trying to sign, but you just don't realize it Know up front that your baby's initial attempts won't mirror your signs. Consider, for example, the sign for HELP. It resembles a thumbs-up gesture with one hand as it rests in the palm of the other hand. But on a child, it could be an elbow that rests in the palm of one hand while the other hand waves. That gesture happens to look an awful lot like the sign for TREE. So how do you know if the child is signing HELP and not TREE? Context is crucial, as well as the frequency with which the baby repeats his rendition of HELP. So, pay extra attention. Does she make consistent movements with her hands that even remotely (and it may be very remotely) resemble the sign you're showing her? If so, then she's signing! And she's probably wondering why you don't understand her. After all, in her mind, her sign is identical to yours.

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Understanding Sign Language for Babies

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Sign language for babies is a method of using either invented hand gestures or American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with very young children months — and even years — before they can communicate verbally. (American Sign Language is the official name of the official sign language for the deaf.) The reason babies don't speak isn't for lack of understanding. It's for lack of the ability to control the movements of the mouth and tongue that are necessary to produce intelligible, audible speech. Those movements are undeveloped until babies are older. However, at a much earlier age, babies can control the movements necessary to produce signs. And as a result of this ability, a world of two-way communication can be opened for babies and their caregivers. Signing with babies provides many benefits. Consider these, for example: Signing gives babies a voice by giving them a way to communicate their wants, needs, and observations. Instead of simply trying to guess what a crying baby needs, for example, a parent or caregiver can understand the need because the baby signs MILK or BALL or FINISHED. Of course, this doesn't mean the crying stops altogether, but frustration levels are drastically reduced because — through the signs that the baby can make — he can communicate some of his specific wants, needs, and observations. Research shows that by the time children who signed as babies and toddlers are in second grade, their IQ scores are an average of 12 points higher than the IQ scores of their non-signing peers. So, beyond the immediate benefits of giving babies a voice and reducing frustration levels, signing has long-term benefits as well. Speech stimulates a particular part of a person's brain. Children who have chatty, interactive parents typically have more stimulation in the speech center of their brains. Furthermore, children who are exposed to a secondary language have stimulation in an additional part of their brains as they're exposed to and learn the language. Signing a word makes that word more concrete. The child is not only hearing the word but also seeing the sign for the word, seeing the object of the sign, and feeling the movement of the sign. Repeatedly experiencing the sign will eventually lead to a child's responding to the sign through obvious understanding or using the sign or word itself. Some folks worry that signing might delay their babies' speech. Rest assured, research has repeatedly proven that signing children actually begin to speak earlier and speak more often than their non-signing counterparts.

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Some Basic Signs to Teach Baby

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Babies and toddlers can use some basic signs when you leave them with a caregiver or pick them up, when they learns who's who in a family, and when they want to melt your heart by showing they love you.

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Baby Signing for the Great Outdoors

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Making baby signs for the outdoors is something that a child will do enthusiastically. There's a whole world of learning outside, and babies seem to instinctively know that.

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Five Animals for Baby to Sign

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Animals are a big deal for babies, so knowing how to sign animals is important. After all, babies see them in books, on television, as toys, and more.

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Baby Signing for Mealtime

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Mealtime signs can prevent frustration for babies and toddlers (and you!) if they know how to express their needs. Baby signing during meals means less cleanup time (no more mushy peas on the walls) and a happier baby.

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