Categories: InfantParenting TipsToddler

Communicate with Toddler and Infant Sign Language

As a parent, how many times have you frantically asked a relative or friend, “Does that sound like a hungry cry or a painful cry?” How many times have you struggled to feed a baby who refuses more than three bites of baby food? She can’t possibly be full yet, could she? The first year of parenting can be the most challenging simply because communicating with your child is only a one-way street. If only you knew what she was trying to tell you.

Starting as early as infancy, sign language is a communication tool that many parents and teachers use to establish two-way communication with young children before they are verbal. Teaching simple signs to communicate the concepts of “hungry,” “thirsty,” “more,” or “sleepy” can help parents and caregivers understand what a child needs in that moment.

Why We Recommend Sign Language

Infants and young toddlers have the ability to understand language and develop the motor skills necessary for signing before they become verbal. Similar to how they learn to wave or clap from mimicking others, they can learn simple signs and associate them with physical objects or concepts.

Beyond the ease of communicating with your child, using toddler and infant sign language has additional developmental benefits:

  • less frustration and anger results in children with greater confidence and self-esteem
  • easier communication results in fewer tantrums
  • signing “lessons” encourages eye-to-eye and tactile contact which can increase parent/child bonding
  • since communication difficulties can often lead to behavioral problems (even as simple as shyness), these can be diminished

Many parents fear that introducing sign language will delay their child’s verbal communication. But research has shown the opposite. Introducing sign language to infants and toddlers can in fact boost speech development, increase vocabulary, and aid in mental development.

How to Introduce Toddler and Infant Sign Language

In the video below, our Toddler Room teacher demonstrates many of the simple signs that we teach to the children in our classrooms.

When To Start

Introducing sign language to your six-month-old infant on a consistent basis can result in your child being able to use sign language effectively by eight- or nine-months old.

Even older children can benefit from the fun and long-lasting educational impact of learning basic sign language. In an article from parents.com, Jan Christian Hafer, Ed.D., director of general studies at Gallaudet University, explains that “three- and four-year-olds usually find signing easy and entertaining because it taps into their natural tendency to communicate using their body.”

If you’d like to learn more about our infant or toddler curriculum and how we use sign language, contact a U-GRO learning center in your area.

Share
Published by
U-GRO Learning Centres

Recent Posts

  • General
  • Parenting Tips

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament

Children are exposed to lots of exciting, new experiences as they grow and develop, especially in the first few years.…

2 days ago
  • For Teachers

Get to Know Your Students: Children’s Love Languages

We often hear about the five love languages for adults, but children express and receive love in their own way…

2 weeks ago
  • Indoor
  • Recipes

Healthy Homemade Snack Ideas for the Whole Family

We know that nutrition plays an important role in keeping your family happy and healthy. With work, school, and activities,…

3 weeks ago
  • General
  • Parenting Tips

Healthy Family Habits to Prevent Cold and Flu

Changes in weather and seasons serve as good reminders to teach your child how to practice healthy habits to prevent…

3 weeks ago
  • Activities
  • Indoor
  • Winter

3 Theme Day Ideas for Winter Family Fun

When the weather gets cold, many families with young children are stuck inside. To keep your little ones from getting…

4 weeks ago
  • For Teachers

Growing Your Career: Other Roles at U-GRO

At U-GRO Learning Centres, we understand that in order to provide the highest quality care and education, our staff must…

2 months ago