Besides simply showing your baby a sign, you can gently manipulate his hands to help him get the feel of the motion. You probably know from your own experience how useful it is to have an expert actually help you
form your hands around a golf club or tennis racket as you are learning. You quickly get a sense of how the club or racket should feel in your hands, making it easier next time to do it own your own. Babies are no different.
In fact, because they are less experienced, they profit even more than we do from sensitive tactile assistance. But keep in mind that babies can also be pretty independent at times. Some babies like help, while others prefer to do it on their own. Just pay close attention to your baby’s response to make sure he likes your help. As is true whatever the situation, awareness ofyour baby’s preferences is most important.
Signs are a natural outgrowth of how you already interact with your baby. The best way to remember to use signs is to build them into your daily routines: diaper changing, mealtime, bathtime, and bedtime. You can use signs to talk with
your baby about anything you are doing. There are lots of ways to remind you and your baby to sign. For example,
hang a picture of a cat above the changing table and talk about the cat using the word and the sign together each time you change your baby’s diaper. Choose a special book about dogs for your child’s bedtime routine to help you practice
the dog sign. Use a placemat with birds and a bib decorated with flowers as reminders to teach your baby these signs at each mealtime. If you’re working on the fish sign, put a fish toy in the bathtub and fish magnets on the refrigerator,
and try Goldfish crackers as a snack. When they are gone, ask your baby if she wants more. These are all good ways to ensure that your baby gets lots of exposure to the signs you are trying to teach her. Take advantage of whatever
toys and pictures you have on hand, and look for ways to incorporate these into enjoyable, easily repeated routines.
In addition to home routines, look for opportunities to use signs on family outings. Label birds at the park, flowers on your neighborhood stroll, toy dogs at the mall, and goldfish in the aquarium at the pediatrician’s office. You’ll be
surprised at how frequently you use signs and how easily they become a part of your daily routines.
A single word stands for many different things. Dog stands for the neighbors’golden retriever as well as the stuffed beagle in the toystore and the picture of the poodle. To truly understandthe word (and the concept it represents), a baby has to connect the word to all of these verydifferent-looking things.