Baby gestures : learn to communicate with your baby


Before your baby can talk, you can already communicate with him through gestures. Handy if, for example, you can't figure out why he keeps crying. What exactly is Baby Gestures, how does the concept work and what does it yield?

What is Baby Gestures?

In America, communicating with your baby through gestures has been popular for years. The Baby and Child Signs concept was introduced there about twenty years ago by the American sign language interpreter Joseph Garcia. Through research, he discovered that not only babies of deaf parents benefited from his method. It also gave hearing parents the opportunity to communicate with their baby early through an easy-to-learn sign system.

Simply put, Baby Gestures is the addition of gestures to the spoken language. So you just keep talking to your baby as you always do, only you make gestures. As with spoken language, your baby learns these gestures by imitating you. By means of Baby Gestures, your child can share with you what he feels or sees, or what he needs, before he can talk (properly).

Most children start with the first words around their first year, while they are cognitively able to express themselves much earlier. By teaching your child gestures, you can bridge this period. A baby wants to share with you what it experiences and needs. With Baby Gestures you give your child tools to do this on his own, so you also get a better insight into his experience and personality.

Scientific research has shown that gestures not only promote language and speech development at a young age, but also that when they are older, signers have an advantage over non-signers in reading, writing and speaking.

Benefits Baby Gestures

Communicating through gestures can reduce parental and baby frustration as you understand each other more quickly. If something is wrong, your baby can tell you with gestures. In addition, it's also just fun to do. Plus: you can communicate with your child with and without sound, you can also understand each other from a great distance or through the window.

Another advantage: if the parents are multilingual, gestures act as a bridge between the languages. So you can more easily understand your child's foreign language (often difficult to understand) gibberish.

American research has also shown that baby sign language stimulates the language and speech development of children. Also, babies seem to cry less often because they are better understood. Your baby likes to let you know what he needs, and through gestures you give him a way to do that.

When to start?

On average, children start talking when they are between twelve and eighteen months old. Communicating through gestures can be done earlier, from about six to eight months (depending on whether your baby is ready). The motor skills of the hands are developed much earlier than the muscles that control the mouth. The moment your baby starts waving is a signal that he is ready for sign language. But it's never too late to start: a toddler or toddler can also benefit from Baby and Child Gestures.

A seven-month-old child is aware of his immediate surroundings and can direct and maintain his attention well. He can also associate: he associates the words he hears with what he sees. So he knows what's going to happen if you say he's going to eat or sleep and he recognizes a plane in the sky and the stuffed animal in his bed.

Learning baby gestures

Baby gestures are supporting spoken language with gestures. So, in addition to the gestures, you continue to talk to your child. This is how you do it:

  • Start with at least 12 gestures and choose words that occur frequently, such as 'food'. Place your thumb and index finger together and move twice towards your mouth. Start with at least 12 gestures and choose words that occur frequently, such as food.
  • Place your thumb and index finger together and move twice towards your mouth.
  • Make sure to use gestures and words at the same time, so say the word out loud when making the gesture.
  • Repeat the words and gestures so that your baby can connect them properly. Do this when the word/gesture is relevant.
  • Help your baby by holding his hands and making the gesture together.
  • Keep it sociable: be patient and encourage your child to learn the gestures. For example, always show him the "good" (thumbs up) gesture when he gestures appropriately.
  • Add new gestures regularly to encourage your child to learn new gestures

Learn to talk

You may wonder if your child is still learning to talk if he can communicate through the use of gestures. According to American researchers, children who have learned baby sign language can actually speak better and earlier. The vocabulary of children who have started using sign language seems to increase once they can speak. The IQ also seems higher. Once your child can speak well, the gestures will slowly disappear.

Help with learning

There are several ways to teach your child Baby Signs. You can already come to an end yourself. On YouTube you'll find a lot of videos with instructions, but you can also follow an (online) course or purchase a special book.

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