Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Signing
If my baby learns signs, will he still learn to talk? When will my baby be ready to start learning some signs? How should we begin? What do we do next? What happens to the signs, as my baby starts talking? My baby is 18 Months...is he too old? Do you have any classes in my area and how much do they cost? What are the guidelines for successful baby signing?
If my baby learns signs, will he still learn to talk?
Yes, of course he will! Signs are never used instead of words and your baby will be greatly encouraged to communicate verbally, not in any way discouraged. Baby signing is not a replacement for talking to your baby, in practice it encourages you to talk more! The use of gesture is a natural form of early communication and doesn't get in the way of learning to talk, other than to give it a boost!
When will my baby be ready to start learning some signs?
Sing and Sign has three types of class, all developmentally appropriate :
- Babes (any age up to around 7 months),
- Stage 1 (6 months plus) and
- Stage 2 (14 months to around 24 months)
We recommend you become consistent using some key signs with your baby from around 6-8 months. From this age, children become increasingly receptive to language. Your baby will start to use these signs when he or she is ready and in the meantime will get a great deal of benefit from simply being signed to in the early stages. This is a sometimes underestimated stage of the process, which is very valuable for your baby!
How should we begin?
You can learn in a Sing and Sign class, or easily at home with our DVD (includes free CDRom with all the signs demonstrated)
Communication begins from birth, so our class for the youngest group, Sing and Sign Babes (suitable from 6 wks up to around 7 mths) is a gentle music and sensory class with a strong emphasis on parent/child communication. We concentrate on the essentials such as good eye contact, repetition and anticipation all enjoyed with our magic ingredient ... music!
Babes builds the framework for our core curriculum Stage 1 classes.Then, in Stage 1 from around 6 months, we recommend you are consistent in showing a few of the key signs you learn in class, which will be significant in your baby's world. It's pretty safe to presume that your baby will want something to eat or drink (most likely milk) and that your baby often will want more of something. The concept of "all gone" (or finished) is also easy to grasp. These are the signs to begin with and to use regularly as part of daily routines. These signs are demonstrated in our online dictionary and in the award winning Sing and Sign DVD.
The best way to understand the process is to think about how you teach your baby to wave "goodbye", which is something we encourage all babies to enjoy . There seem to be four typical stages :
- Your baby will first start to recognise and enjoy Mummy and Daddy waving goodbye
- Then start to imitate you when you wave (probably to great applause and family excitement!)
- Soon start to wave spontaneously as you get ready to leave (this is when we would say the baby is 'signing')
- Eventually say the words "bye-bye!" while waving.
- You don't have to wait until your baby masters the early signs you chose before moving on to more exciting ones. From about 9 months, once your baby begins to communicate interest in things by pointing, then you can be ready to use some more signs.
What do we do next?
Follow your baby's lead. Each baby is special and has different interests. While one points to and is excited by anything with wheels, another may be fascinated by the family cat or the swings in the park. You know your child, and only you know what other signs will be motivating. As your baby points to something of interest, then looks back to you, say the word while showing the relevant sign.
Sing and Sign targets many of the signs babies find motivating. By enjoying Sing and Sign songs you will probably know many of the signs your baby will show an interest in.
What happens to the signs, as my baby starts talking?
Your baby will use signs and immature speech together for a while. As speech improves, signs fade away until they are probably dropped altogether. Some favourites might stay around for a while!
My baby is 18 Months...is he too old?
At eighteen months your baby is probably already communicating all sorts of things, in gesture and in words. However there are probably quite a few spoken words that are unclear or not being used yet! Signing is fun and can be a great encouragement, so increasing your toddlers vocabulary with a few signs is a great idea!
If you do have concerns that your baby is not saying any words, or is not pointing things out to you or making good eye contact at this age then it is a good idea to mention it to your Health Visitor or doctor who can refer you to a speech and language therapist for advice. Children all develop at different rates, but some milestones are typical. Signing is likely to be recommended by most speech and language therapists particularly if a baby's communication is delayed.
Do you have any classes in my area and how much do they cost?
We may well have a group running near you, we cover much of the UK so please visit our classes near you page to find out! All our teachers around the country set their own prices as they have varying venue hire costs and other considerations, so please contact your local teacher direct to ask the price of a class in your area.
What are the guidelines for successful baby signing?
- Begin with basics such as more, finished, eat, drink/milk starting at 6-9 months
- Follow your baby's lead. From 9 months onwards, watch to see what interests your baby and introduce signs you think your baby might WANT to say
- Always say the word as you sign. Never sign in silence.
- Speak slowly but in a natural way
- Keep it simple, use just one sign per sentence when speaking with your baby. Signing fuller sentences is fine in songs.
- Happily accept any signing attempts by your baby, even approximate imitations of the signs you show........
- ....but you must be consistent in how you show a sign, however your baby adapts it.
- Avoid trying to get your baby to "perform" signs on demand
- Be patient and relaxed about baby signing.
- Praise, praise, praise!