Let’s talk Baby Sign Language (BSL)! I’m going to tell you my non-expert experience using BSL with my baby girl.
Why Use Baby Sign Language?
The reason I’ve chosen to incorporate baby sign language into my days with C is that I’ve wanted another way to communicate with her before she can fully verbalize what she wants and needs. I have never used BSL as a replacement of speech, but rather in addition.
How to Incorporate BSL?
Every single day, we sign. Some daily signs are: milk, hungry, water, all done, diaper, walk, outside, nap, bath, eat, music, book, please, and thank you.
Let’s say I was going to get Collins water. I would sign AND say “Water…Collins, would you like some water?” There I have already signed and said the word twice. Then as I’m handing her the water, I would say, “Water! Here is your water.” Now, I’ve signed and said the word another two times. The repetition C is getting from signing and saying is immensely impactful!
When to Start Signing?
I started using signs when C was about 4 months of age, especially with signs like “milk” and “diaper”, partly so I could get in the habit of doing them myself. She joined in and started signing “milk” herself by before 6-months of age. By 9-months, she was also able to do “all done,” “hungry,” and “more.” Take note that sometimes babies cannot do a sign perfectly, so watch for them ‘trying’ to do that sign!
I think it’s also important to remember to not get discouraged if your baby is taking longer to learn. In the Baby Signing Bible (which I love for adults), the author talks about how one of her kids signed at 6-months, and the other at 11-months. Regardless of age, it’s a helpful way for children to communicate, even once they master verbal communication – for example, they could sign “help” when they are far away from you at the playground, or they could sign “I love you” heading into school…[I sign that one out my car window to my parents all the time as I’m driving away…<3]
Consistency is Key!
I started with quite a few signs right from the get-go, so I could learn along with Collins, and like I said, make it a habit. Consistency is key! I told you some of the daily signs we do, but we also incorporate the alphabet, animals, foods, “swim,” “help,” “piano,” “toilet.” At around 1-year-old, Collins started signing “please,” and that became very helpful for me to see she needed assistance with something! Even though C is speaking some words, BSL is still such a great addition to speech.
A book I have love reading to C, which has also helped me, is Sign Me Up for a Happy Home.
This is a skill I’m so grateful we’ve worked on from such a young age, and I know it will do wonders for us in years to come.