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Signing With Babies And Children: What is the perfect age to start Baby Sign Language / Baby Signing?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

What is the perfect age to start Baby Sign Language / Baby Signing?

"What age should I start signing with my baby?" this is the most common question parents ask me.

"What age should I start Baby Signing with my baby?" “When should I start baby sign language?”  these are the most common question parents ask me.

For babies and for us as parents, new beginnings are not reserved for one time or hour. We are fortunate enough to experience these every day, as our little ones reach new milestones, change in subtle and obvious ways, and learn more about the world.  The first smile, a little something to make them giggle, an independent step, or an exciting discovery -- there isn’t anything more beautiful than to see our children grow, explore, and flourish. 

A quick browse on the Net will result in various answers, no surprise, and the truth is that I do not like to give an exact time frame to any parent.  Children are unique in their development, and sign language is no different than rolling over, sitting up, smiling, crawling, and walking. Your baby will sign according to his/her own time frame.

Babies are often ready to sign back when they sit by themselves and can point. Does that mean we should only start signing at that time?  Definitely not.  We start talking to them well before this point and the same applies to sign language. In fact, babies who are born to families with deaf parents or siblings are exposed to signing
at birth
. I do not believe in ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ – you are the expert on your child and your instincts will lead the way.  Keep in mind, however, that babies are fast learners and may understand what you are signing well before they are able to sign back.

I began the signing process with my daughter when she was 8 months old. whe she was– 16 months– signing remains part of her daily life and routine. Her vocabulary is
so rich and she is constantly asking to learn more signs and words.  (We just learned the signs for ‘imagination’ and ‘pretend’ as she is playing with dolls).

Recently I received an e-mail from Magda, a mom who uses sign language after participating in our class.  Her message read:
“I took Etel's class when my son was 5 months. By 6 months, he started signing ’milk’, wow. My son was fascinated by the class, looking at everybody signing at the same time”.

Etel Leit, M.S.

Founder & Owner

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