At some point during the first year, usually mid-tantrum, almost every frustrated parent wishes their baby could talk it out. Maybe your cutie’s been showing early signs of speaking, like babbling up a storm or stringing together syllables, but they are nowhere near ready to verbalize their innermost desires and needs. That said, littles actually understand far more than they are capable of communicating, and there are ways you can encourage them to tell you what’s up.
Enter baby sign language! Introducing some baby signs can make a world of difference between your wee one being a monster or a master communicator. While research shows that baby sign language can give them a head start in language acquisition and stronger cognitive skills, it’s also a brilliant way to make your life a little easier. Imagine fewer crying fits simply because your baby knows how to tell you they’re hungry, sleepy, or poopy. Yes, please!
You can find plenty of baby sign language guides online that’ll show you which words pair with which hand motions – Pinterest is a great place to start. As you teach your future-signer this new communication tool, stay patient and consistent. Start by saying a word or phrase, such as “drink” or “all done” while making the appropriate sign at the same time. Eventually, with repetition, your baby will start to mimic your gestures. It’s a win-win: baby feels heard and you feel like the badass parent that you are!
PRO HACK: Let your hands do the talking. Look online for a chart of common baby signs that you can print and stick on the fridge, bathroom mirror, and all over the house. It’ll remind you to add in some sign language the next time you ask baby if she’s ready for a snack, bath, or diaper change. Handy!
SUPER PRO HACK: Get everyone involved! Encourage siblings, caretakers, and grandparents to use sign language for some added reinforcement.