Little Hands’ Quick-Start Guide to Signing with your Child - Little Hands Pediatric Therapy

Little Hands’ Quick-Start Guide to Signing with your Child!

You’ve learned a few signs and you’re ready to start using them with your hearing baby or toddler.  But, where to start?  Here are some tips to get you started signing.

  1. Select your CORE Vocab! For Babies: Pick 5 high-frequency words in your house.  For Toddlers: Pick up to 10.  Common words include: More, Eat, Milk, Dog/Cat, Sleep, etc.  This is your CORE Vocabulary.
  2. Tell Everyone your Core Vocab. Does Grandma spend a lot of time with you?  How about daycare?  Everyone around you should have a list of your 5-10 Core signs so that they can use them too.
  3. Use Your CORE Vocab! Anytime you say one of your core vocab words, make the sign with it.  Sign all of the words you can remember, but try to provide numerous repetition of the core vocab words throughout the day.  Just as we talk to babies from birth, your child will need to see the sign frequently in order to learn it and sign it back to you.
  4.  Words & Signs Go Together. We are trying to facilitate spoken language development by using signs so be sure to keep your voice on and use the word with the sign, in any language you chose!
  5. Sign In the Bath, and Other Places. Sure, food signs are great, but signs aren’t just for the dinner table!  You can sign while getting dressed, while on a walk, at the park, and in the bath!
  6. Hand over Hand. Place your hands over your baby’s hands and guide them to form signs like “more” and “dog”.
  7.  Eyes on Eyes. Get your child’s visual attention before signing to them.  Bring the object up to your face, get your child’s visual attention, then show them the sign.
  8.  Reward their attempts. As soon as your child gives you a sign/ word approximation/ gesture, reward it immediately so you do not lose the connection.  Remember, communication is a 2-way street.

Join us each month at Brambleton Library for free basic sign language class for infants through preschoolers and their caregivers.  No experience is required.  We will learn basic signs, discuss speech and language development and learn how to support your child’s language development from birth to age five.

Frequently asked questions about baby sign language and teaching sign language to hearing babies and toddlers can be found here.

Interested in learning ASL?  Start here!