Try to be consistent. The more consistent you are, the faster your baby will learn the sign. If you make the sign every time you say the word, then your baby will quickly realize that the sign and the spoken word are the same thing. Once your baby realizes that a sign can help him get what he wants, then it will be much easier to teach him new signs. Once my daughter understood that everything has a sign, we would only have to make a new sign once and she would pick it up. However, if you aren’t in the mood to sign one day, that’s okay – don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for motivational signs. Once your baby has picked up some signs and you want to introduce new words, I suggest looking for ‘motivational’ signs or things that your baby is interested in. If your baby loves bananas, then teach her the sign for bananas; she will be motivated to learn that sign. If she hates peas, then there is no point in trying to teach her a sign she’ll never use. Food, toys and animals tend to be great motivational signs for babies. Make it fun and look for ‘teachable’ moments. If it isn’t fun, then your baby won’t be interested in learning and it will be a chore for you. You can play signing games with your baby. For example, if your baby likes books, you can show him the signs for the pictures in the book. This type of learning is ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ learning. When you ask your child to show you the sign for whatever is in the book, they are actively participating in the story rather than just sitting and listening. By teaching your child signs while reading, you will find they are more engaged in the lesson. It becomes a game and children love to be quizzed. Don’t give up! This is probably the most important tip! Some parents give up too soon. They get frustrated because their babies don’t sign back to them right away. Remember that the more consistent you are, the faster they will learn the signs. I have never seen a baby fail to learn when their parents were consistent with teaching them. Be patient and stick with just a few signs until your baby ‘gets it’.
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