Baby sign language is a popular and effective means of communication between parents and children, which reduces frustration and helps strengthen the attachment.
One of the amazing results of communication using sign language is improvement of the sleep of a child. Parents who communicate with their kids in sign language often say that going to sleep has become much more pleasant, and kids after a year or even younger show that they are tired themselves.
Let’s see how sign language can help you improve the communication with your baby and his/her sleep.
Non-verbal Period of Child Development
A child under 2.5 years of age communicates mainly with gestures. Imagine how subtly you will feel your baby and how easy it will be for your son/daughter to understand you, if you master each other’s body language perfectly. Experts on non-verbal communication are convinced that for the first five years the young mother relies mainly on non-verbal channels of communication with her child. And she feels the child much better than dad. After all, it is known that women’s intuition is much stronger and thinner than men’s. Studies have shown that the most appropriate time to learn sign language is when a child begins to show a special interest in the world that surrounds him/her (this usually happens around 4-6 months). At this age, the baby with pleasure examines the pictures in books, examines objects and people, gets acquainted with patterns of behavior. With the help of gestures and conventional signs, it will be much easier for him/her to assimilate the received knowledge.
Do not think that because of baby sign language, your child will start speaking later. On the contrary, it will happen much earlier. Indeed, thanks to facial expressions and gestures, the baby’s speech and vocabulary is enriched.
Having mastered the art of gestures, the baby will easily begin to pronounce sounds. Psychologically, the child may be ready to talk. But his/her articulation apparatus should be ready for this as well. Therefore, when showing a child something, always say the word out loud.
The better you learn the gestures of the child and respond to them, the faster the child will learn the language. Confidence that he/she is understood is a powerful factor in the baby’s self-esteem.
Does Baby Sign Language Reduce Frustration?
Fatigue and frustration are the main causes of poor children’s sleep. It is proved that children’s sign language reduces frustration in children up to a year or older.
As the child begins to better understand what is happening around, his/her ability to communicate grows along with self-confidence. It’s clear that it is much easier to put a happy and contented baby to sleep than an upset and anxious one.
How to Recognize Fatigue in a Baby?
Children up to 3 years old need at least one day sleep and 11–12 hours of sleep at night, but some babies are able to hide signs of fatigue very well. Watching the baby and catching the first signs of fatigue, you will be able to understand when it’s time to lay your child down for the daytime or for the night sleep. Together with other gestures for communication during the day, kids will recognize gestures that mean “tired” and “sleep.”
Regularly practicing sign language, the child learns to understand when he/she is tired. This will help prevent the accumulation of fatigue – a common cause of frequent awakenings.
Baby Sign Language Before Bedtime and How to Use It
The game is a great way to teach your baby to bedtime ritual. By using gesture “tired” and “sleep” show the baby that his toy (e.g. the bear) is tired and wants to sleep. Put the toy in the crib and read the fairytale. Then you need to leave the room for a minute and, upon returning, wake up the toy. By repeating this game often, you demonstrate to your baby that mom and dad will definitely come when bedtime is over.
Attachment and Sign Language
Communication with the help of sign language over time forms a very strong attachment of the baby to the mother. Sleeping in a separate bed (separation at night) is not stressful for a child with reliable affection. During the day, sign language gives the mother and her baby plenty of opportunities for positive attention to each other. As a result, babies, before and after a year, are not capricious before bedtime.
Also, due to baby sign language parents are sure that they understand their child well. Therefore they react more calmly to the tears of the baby in the crib if he/she cries because of fatigue.
Is Baby Sign Language Indeed so Useful?
If your baby knows how to use sign language, it can help him/her express their wants and emotions before they can speak. Using signs, babies can tell that they are hungry or want something else. What’s more, such communication can strengthen the parent child bonds.
When Is It Better To Start Teaching Your Baby Sign Language?
In general, you can start signing with your baby soon after the birth. Still, it is better to keep in mind that your child may not be able to sign back before he/she turns 6 months old. Remember each baby is unique and all babies develop differently. Thus, it may take some time for your baby to understand signs and sign back.
Tips for Signing With Your Baby
- At the beginning, try using simple signs. Do it on a daily basis focusing on three different words/signs. Pronounce the words slowly and clearly, show the signs at the same time. Words for certain objects are the best way to start with because you can immediately show what your sign means.
- Practice signing with your baby very often. Ask other family members to use signs as well. The more practice you have, the better results you’ll get.
- Do not forget to use signs while talking to your baby. After about two months of practicing baby sign language, the baby might begin signing as well. Do not give up if your baby doesn’t sign back. Keep in mind that each baby is unique. So, your baby might just need some more time and practice.
The Benefits of Baby Sign Language
Apart from the fact that practicing baby sign language is exciting and fun, it’s a great opportunity to watch your baby think and learn.
This may help you paying closer attention to your baby’s attempts to speak. You may also notice the challenges your baby faces while trying to learn to communicate.
Some specialists say that baby sign language has long-term cognitive benefits. There is a theory that babies who were taught sign language in future acquire better spoken vocabularies, and even develop higher IQ. What’s more, baby sign language has important emotional benefits.
According to this statement, it is easier for a baby to learn signs than words. As a result, they communicate more effectively at an earlier age. Another benefit is that parents understand their babies better. Thus, it reduces frustration and stress.
Baby Sign Language: Guidelines
Talking to your child in sign language, use meaningful signs as well (one gesture is equal to one sentence). Do not forget to praise the child and do not rush him/her! Then the baby will succeed!
- “Let’s eat”: Put an imaginary spoon to your mouth
- “It’s all over!”: Squeeze your hands into fists, and then push them away from you, opening your palms.
- “Sleep”: With two palms folded, prop your cheek, tilt your head. Shake your head as if you were in a crib.
- “I’m afraid!”: Press your hand to your chest. Show the emotion of fright on your face.
- “Where?”: Raise your hands with your palms up, while shrugging your shoulders.
- “Hot!”: Hold your hand to your mouth and quickly pull it aside, while blowing heavily on your fingers.
- “Love you!”: Cross your arms across your chest.
- “Drink”: Hold a semi-clenched fist to your lips.
- “Car rides”: Imagine that you are turning the steering wheel.