When can I start signing with my child?
While you can sign with a baby from birth, most experts agree that infants gain the memory skills needed to remember and repeat signs only at about six months of age. That’s a pretty well accepted age for starting sign language use with babies. But even if you haven’t started at six months of age, ANYTIME is a good time, to start signing with children. For a longer explanation about the age range of signing with babies, click here.
How long does it take a child to learn the first sign?
It may take quite some time before your child signs back to you. Six to eight weeks, or even longer. Your child’s age will have some bearing on this, as will your child’s interest and personality. Keep signing, keep saying the words, keep repeating. Don’t give up!
Can my baby’s hands really sign?
When your child signs back to you the first time, you may have a hard time recognizing the sign. Little hands can’t always make the hand shapes exactly as adult can, just as little mouths can’t always pronounce words precisely in those early years. We train our ears for baby talk: most of us will understand that ‘wa-wa’ means water.
Train your eyes for ‘baby’ signs – early adaptations of signs by little hands. The adaptation for “MORE” is often a single finger pointed into an open hand. (The full sign is thumb and fingers pinched together on both hands, then tapping those pinched finger/thumb-tips together.) WATER’s adaptation may show up as just one finger instead of the three-fingered “w” handshape tapping the chin.
Adaptations of signs will differ from child to child. Keep signing the full sign. Those little hands will adapt as they can, and you’ll learn your child’s version of signs in the meantime.
How many signs do we need?
Here’s the good news: 10 to 20 signs can make a big difference in your child’s life – and in yours! That’s a great place to start.
However, once your little one figures out how signs work, and that they can communicate with you with signs, you’ll both be looking, scrambling, for more signs to add to the conversation.
A vocabulary of 50 – 60 signs gives a child lots of things to talk about. With 100 – 200 signs, you will be able to cover many many more subjects and activities. That may sound like a lot, but remember that most signs look like what they mean. And you start with a few words and learn and add more as you go along.
Just remember, it’s not a competition, it’s a conversation.
How can I learn more?
This website offers information on how to sign, and how to help your child sign. You’ll find instructions, materials, and links to other sites that can help you. We’re adding new information regularly, but please send us a message if you don’t see what you’re looking for, or have other questions. You can leave a comment on this site, or if you prefer, send us a message.