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M&BTV: Learning To Sign

Communicating with your baby doesn't always require words. Learn how to sign with your little one and avoid those frustrated temper tantrums...

Emma Finley Smith, baby signing teacher says: Baby signing is a really natural way to communicate with babies before they can talk. Babies do actually gesture naturally themselves – they may point up if they want to be picked up, they do lots of different gestures by themselves. So what we’re doing is introducing them to a few more signs to give them a wider vocabulary so they can communicate with us.

Mum 1: I started baby signing when she was six months and she did her first sign when she was ten months which was birds and milk came very quickly after.

Emma says: Introducing sounds to your baby is not as difficult as you might think. A lot of the sounds are very iconic; for example ‘hug’ or ‘drink’ or ‘eat’. So you can pretty much guess a lot of the sounds yourself – you don’t need to go away and learn a whole new language which is great because you’ve already got enough on your plate with raising your new little infant.

Mum 2: It was useful for me because she was very very frustrated. She was getting so angry that she couldn’t do what she wanted to do and she couldn’t get across what she wanted to get across. All she could do was get angry, I mean she wasn’t happy.

Mum 1: And the best signs really were things like ‘more’, ‘again’, ‘hungry’, ‘drink’, ‘milk’ and her being able to tell us if she wants a ‘biscuit’ or an ‘apple’.

Emma says: Now the golden rule about signing with babies is not to teach them. You literally just introduce signs into your daily activities. Say for example if you’re changing your baby’s nappy you sit there and make the sign, so all you’re doing is adding simple signs into your daily vocabulary with your little one.

Mum 1: But when she’s younger, it just made life much, much easier.

Emma says: Two signs that I found very useful with my daughter were ‘help’ and ‘more’ – they were the real temper tantrum busters. She used to get very frustrated when she couldn’t do certain things so she would also ask me for ‘help’. And the other one is ‘more’. Babies love more food, more cuddles, more stories, more signs, so we use the sign more. But with a simple they can communicate that more easily with you without needed all the tears and tantrums – it’s much easier for you and your baby.

 
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