If you’re a new parent, you can relate to the frustration associated with trying to figure out what your toddler needs. Until they can speak the first words, communication is pretty much limited.
The overwhelming sense of helplessness is evident when your baby is hungry and can only cry to be heard. Introducing baby sign language for feeding time can improve communication and your ability to understand the baby. We explore the most basic sign language for feeding time and how to do it.
What is Baby Sign Language?
It’s a collection of hand gestures that correspond to the most common words you use with your baby. The language provides an opportunity to communicate with your child before their speech develops.
Research shows a child’s ability to comprehend develops earlier than their ability to speak, causing a lag between receptive language and expressive language. Sign language reconciles this mismatch and improves understanding between the baby and the caregiver.
In this case, baby sign language for feeding time helps the caregiver to understand when the baby is hungry, full, or thirsty.
How to Start Teaching Sign Language
The first step of teaching sign language that helps when feeding a baby is to say the word and make the gesture simultaneously.
For example, if you’re giving milk to the baby, you want to accompany this gesture with the word milk and the sign. Here are basic mealtime sign languages you can teach your toddler:
- Baby sign for hungry: Make a ‘C’ shape using one hand with your palm facing your chest to make the hungry sign. Then move your hand down from the neck or chest to the stomach
- Baby sign for drink: You also make a C shape when signing this language. However, instead of moving your hand to the stomach move it to the mouth
- Baby sign for milk: For this sign make a fist, then open and close it as if you’re milking a cow. This sign is particularly useful for breastfeeding babies and those on formula
- Baby sign for water: The sign is made by extending three fingers upwards with the thumb, and the small finger tucked down. Then tap your index finger to the chin
- Baby sign for done: Your little one may spit food out when he is full which can be confusing at times. Teach him to twist his hands back and forth once he is full
Tips on Teaching Baby Sign Language for Feeding Time Effectively
Sign language is effective when your child has developed the skill of holding a gaze for a few seconds, say six months. Here are tips to help train him effectively:
Repeat The Signs Regularly
Repetition is critical to helping your child learn sign language. Don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t learn how to sign right away. It takes time to get the hang of it; when he does, communication improves drastically.
The baby should start mimicking the signs two to three months after training. It would also help if you encouraged other caregivers to use sign language that helps when feeding the baby.
Begin With Three To Five Basic Signs
You want to start with three to five basic signs like eating, more, and milk. Your kid’s brain is still developing and might not comprehend too much information. While at it make eye contact with the baby and say the word out loud.
The best time to teach sign language is when the baby is highly interactive. Mealtimes are highly productive as well as reading, bath, and playtime.
You are now ready to teach your baby sign language for feeding time. Be sure to start with the most practical signs to enhance comprehension. Also, make the sessions interesting as babies want to associate with what interests them. Keeping a poster handy like this one is a great way to remember to keep signing.