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What is Baby Sign Language?

How to Start?

» 12 Easy Steps to Begin Signing
» Sign with Everyday Routines

12 Easy Steps to Begin Signing

  1. The first step in teaching sign language is to identify items, toys, activities or food items that the learner likes or might be interested and curious about (recommended: generate a list a list)
  2. Be prepared to move into expressive gesturing early in the program- if the child can see that he can influence the person he is signing to, he may be more easily motivated.
  3. Make eye contact.
  4. Say the word as you make the sign slowly and clearly.
  5. Start with the concrete and work to the abstract.
  6. Make it part of your daily routine (there is not ‘signing class’). Always sign in context or real life situation.
  7. Once a sign is established, repeat it in many different situations.
  8. Acknowledge the child with attention for any efforts he may make. Reward the child for imitative (reproductive) responses- especially important in the beginning stages.
  9. Accept approximations!
  10. Be consistent. Your own behavior should match the sign- if the therapist signs "happy," he must look happy, etc.
  11. Encourage family members and caregiver to use the same sign for the same meaning.
  12. Make it fun--remember that these children have faced a lot of failure in the past.
    • It is essential to remember that each child is unique. Work with them at their appropriate level while staying focused the whole time on that specific child's needs, desires, and potential abilities.

Sign with Everyday Routines

*Sing songs at the beginning, middle, and end of everyday routines, such as diapering, toileting, eating, sleeping, waking, and bathing. Create your own songs or see samples included in packet.

*Use baby’s favorite food or snack as motivation at eating time. Give him/her 1 Cheerio, cracker, etc., and wait for the sign MORE before giving more snack. Offer a choice to EAT or DRINK, also, and later pair such signs with the appropriate food or liquid.

*Use dolls or stuffed animals to act out daily routines such as diapering, feeding, and bathing while using relevant signs. Many babies are also humored by dolls and stuffed animals signing (as the adult manipulates the hands or paws). Try having the dolls or animals make requests or comments.

*Put a favorite animal to bed. Use the signs BED, WAKE UP, I LOVE YOU, KISS. Sing baby’s special goodnight song to animal.

*Many babies love the telephone. Sign TELEPHONE when it rings, then who is talking if it is a familiar person (DADDY, GRANDMA, etc.) Allow baby to listen if appropriate or provide a pretend phone for baby to play with while you talk.

*Sign to baby when family members leave or return to the home, such as DADDY WORK, DADDY HOME, JACK SCHOOL, BEN LIBRARY.

*Pair signs with spoken words to emphasize safety issues. Sign NO, STOP, HURT, HOT when appropriate.

*Pair signs with spoken words to identify feelings. Say “You look SAD”, or “You sound ANGRY”, or “You seem to be feeling SICK.” The earlier babies are introduced to these concepts, the earlier they may be able to communicate them back to you.

*by Love to Sign