Often new parents are lost in how to connect with their new baby or young child. They forget it is nature for humans to communicate through every method possible, from the simplest cry for attention to the pain cry of teething. Children are always expressing their wants and needs to us. As parents and care-givers we need to stop and really listen to them.
As a special education teacher, I encourage my babies to use sign language to communicate. The spoken word in most babies does not start till around 10-11 months of age with calling Mom or Dad, and soon will build to about 50 words or more for the average young child by the time they are 18 months old. However, they are still communicating to us for their likes, dislikes, wants and needs. A coo and or smile is a great way of telling us they are happy. A startle or wailing cry can tell us they are scared or need someone to hold them to feel safe.
I love this picture because this babies is saying “I am teething!” Some of the simplest gestures are communications. This is why it is easy to teach young children simple signs such as MORE
One sign I find very helpful is when you teach a young child to ask PLEASE
So if you have not guessed by now, first I not only support but truly want to encourage you to teach your child simple signs to become effective communicators. Second, sign language will not prevent or stall your child from using their voice, but rather, help them to express their wants and needs with less crying and frustration. You can start to teach your child simple signs as young as 5 months and just keep using them every time you talk to your child and practice hand over hand to help them learn to use the signs.
If you are persistent with using simple signs your child will begin to sign to you and you will see less crying for wants and needs.
Hopefully this post is useful to you and if you feel the need to want to learn more, please post a comment and I will gladly suggest more helpful signs to teach your young child who has not developed verbal conversational communication.