It’s always nice to get your family onboard with signing. Not just because it’s more fun and involved, but because your baby gets to see how communication really works, not to mention the fact that you get a much needed hand (pun intended!) with things.
The easiest way to get grandparents to start signing with baby is to just teach them a few signs or start by translating for your baby if they already know a bunch. Make sure that grandma and grandpa model the signs back to you so you are sure they understand them. If you’re just new at this, why not try to teach baby a sign that will hit home for them. Obviously the best way to hook your folks is by teaching baby the sign for GRANDMA and GRANDPA. You can either way for them to show up on a visit or even surprise them by teaching baby before the arrive. I recommend using images from albums to queue your baby. Teaching baby the family signs while they are there might be the best way, because it shows them the exact process. This will give them a more involved feeling rather than just saying, “Hey G-parent, watch what baby can do!” and then having them do the sign. By doing so, they just wont grasp the full extend of the process or feel a need to become more involved.
Older siblings, uncles and aunts and even family friends can help with signing. Hook them up with a signing dictionary, help in translating, have them model signs and make sure they understand that they should come to you if they don’t understand what junior is saying to them. Your goal is to build your families sign vocabulary too and the time you take to do this will be rewarded later as they take over signing duties. By setting them up with the dictionary, you open the door for them to teach your baby new signs, maybe even signs that they find interesting or near and dear to them – especially if they share a common interest or ritual with your baby.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the power that extended family has on your little guy and just because your family doesn’t show initial enthusiasm with signing, doesn’t mean they won’t grow to love it. Get their big hands moving too and you’ll be surprised by how easily and quickly they take to talking to your preverbal baby.