Baby Sign Language for Beginners: When (and How) to Start

A Useful Tool

As a certified Sleep Consultant, you will not be required to know baby sign language. However, this can prove to be a useful tool to recommend to your clients!

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happy baby with raised arms

What Is Baby Sign Language?

Until they are old enough to communicate with words, baby sign language provides young children with a way to express their emotions and needs. By teaching a baby how to sign, they can successfully tell others when they're:

  • Tired
  • Hungry
  • Thirsty
  • In pain
  • Frustrated
  • Grateful
  • And much more!

Plus, research indicates that baby sign language can be beneficial for verbal development. Learn more about this here!

baby smiling and covering mouth with hands

When to Teach Baby Sign Language

Your client might wonder when it's appropriate (or effective) to start teaching their infant sign language. While most babies won't be able to sign until they're anywhere from 8 to 14 months old, parents can introduce signing at as early as 6 months. The earlier your client starts to teach it, the better. So, as soon as their baby shows an interest in communicating, they can begin.

How to Get Started

If your clients are unsure where to begin, here are a few tips you can suggest:

  • Choose signs that are meaningful and relevant to the child
  • Signs should express common, everyday needs (i.e. being hungry, being sleepy, etc.)
  • To be most effective, signing should be consistent
  • Speak AND sign at the same time so the baby can establish a connection between the sign and the spoken word
  • Make signs as close to your face as possible
  • If the baby creates their own sign, use it
  • Reward the baby whenever they successfully use the right sign

Watch this informative video on the Top 15 signs your clients should teach their infants!

thirsty baby moving towards baby bottle

How This Affects You as the Sleep Consultant

Your job is to help parents create a safe, healthy routine for their infant's sleep schedule. While you personally won't be expected to teach your clients baby sign language, you can ultimately make their lives easier by bringing this option to their attention and providing helpful tips for getting started. After all, a sleepy baby might not be able to say they're tired with actual words—but this way, they'll have a way of saying it with signs. Thus, your clients can gain an even better understanding of their baby's needs and more efficiently implement a plan of action.

smiling baby crawling in bed

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