This section is not for the signing purist who will want to sign all things to their baby. I’m about to tell you how to make your life easier while gaining the greatest value from signing. That’s right, I’m telling you how you can take a signing shortcut. It’s pretty simple really. You’re just going to choose the signs that have the absolute greatest importance to your baby and avoid all others. You might think that this is difficult, but it’s really not. Simply choose those signs which arise over and over again throughout the day, and ignore all the other signs for words that are easy to say or can be left unsaid without making much difference.
For starters ignore all words that are easy to say such as CAT, DOG and so forth. These are some of the words you baby is going to speak first anyway so what’s the point in teaching them how to say them two different ways, right? You’re also not going to teach motivating signs, unless of course your baby is desperate to call out for it or forms a strong attachment. Next you’ll compile a short list of 10-15 signs which you think your baby and you will benefit from being able to communicate. Did you catch the last part of that? These are the words that will make your life easier and benefit you! Teaching your baby to sign important things will help you in the long run since when your baby uses them, they will be telling you exactly what is they need instead of whinny incessantly! This is ultimately what communication is all about, right?
Above: The CAT sign is made with the thumb and index finger coming together at the corner of the mouth which are then drawn outward as if pulling on a cat’s whiskers. This sign can be done with either one or both hands.
So here is the short list of the words that you absolutely must teach your baby if you really want to simplify your life: MORE, MILK, EAT, ALL-DONE, BYE-BYE, DAD, MOM, HURT/WHERE, HELP, WATER, BATH, BED/SLEEP, CRACKER, HOT, DIAPER, PLAY, WAIT and STOP. If you are a polite parent you’ll probably also include PLEASE and THANK YOU. Do note that DIAPER is not always a particularly good sign to start with, and not all babies will independently do the sign even when they know it. Some babies just don’t enjoy having their diaper changed and avoid it at all costs.
Above: In this signing marathon we sign HIPPO, GIRAFFE, CRACKER, CEREAL, CRAYON/COLOUR, BOOK, MOON, BUTTERFLY, PLEASE, SHIRT, TOAST, BATH, SEAL, FROG, TOOTH BRUSH, EGG, TOMATO, RACCOON, UNCLE, BUG, BEAR, HOT, TURTLE, SHOES, MONKEY, FAN, THANK YOU, UP, LIGHT, GORILLA, WORK, DIRTY, FISH, CROCODILE, ELEPHANT, WALK, BUNNY, DIAPER, HEAR, MOON and BYE.