Develop Language Skills

Communicating with Your Baby or Toddler with Sign Language.

Language Skills: Language skills for your child start at birth. Twelve methods all can use to help a child develop language and communication skills.

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Language Skills for Your Baby and Toddler

Twelve Ways You Can Help Your Child Develop Language Skills.

Mary Moore

Everyone in a child’s life can contribute to that child’s development of language skills.

Studies show that children have better grammar and larger vocabularieswhen they are talked to, conversed with, stimulated, and read to often duringtheir infancy and early childhood. 

Although parents will probably have the most influence on language skills,anyone in a child’s life can encourage that child’s language development.

1. Sign Language: Teach your infant andtoddler to sign simple words through American Sign Language.There is ample research to show that signing not only works for communicatingbefore verbal communication is possible, it also increases verbal skills andvocabulary.

2. Talk:  Talk to your child from dayone. Talk about any subject as the child’s day develops. For example, say toyour child as he/she finishes breakfast, "You have finished eating yourwarm oatmeal and cool applesauce. Ummm, they both tasted good. Now you will takea bath and get dressed." While you bathe your child say, "Daddy isgoing to pour warm water on your back. See, Maxine, it feels good. Now we will dry offwith a big soft towel and put on some cool lotion." When you take a walklater in the day, keep up a running commentary on the sunshine, flowers, grass,birds, wind, etc. Keep that commentary going all day.

3. Read: Your baby is never too young to hearyou read. Future reading success is at least partially determined by the amount of time parents spend reading withand to their child. You can start with picture books and add longer stories("chapter books") as your child gets older.

4. Collect Books: Build a collection ofchildren’s books for your child. They don’t have to be new or expensive. Garagesales and "Friends of the Library" sales are great places to pick upbooks on the cheap.

5. Story Time: Story times at your library or bookstore helpchildren appreciate reading and books. 

6. Tell Stories: Make up your own simplestories that fit your child’s interests and often include him/her as acharacter. Making up a story about the world around you is a good way to narratea walk with your child. "Once upon a time, Max and Mommy were taking awalk when…" Encourage your child to tell you stories, too. Hearing alocal story teller is great if one is available in your area. 

7. Child Leads: Follow your child’s lead. Ifyou notice an interest in a particular picture or event in your world, keep talking about it. If she seems intrigued byanimals, show her more animals and talk about them, too. If she keeps comingback to the dogs, show her different dogs and talk about their sizes, colors,furs, and noises such as barks, whines, or growls. 

8. Music: Play music for your child,even as an infant. They love music, clapping, different instruments/sounds andmovement. Music teaches him the rhythm of language and helps him learn about her world.The Wiggles make great videos and CDs that "make" children sing, danceand wiggle along while learning about many subjects.

9. Repeat Her Sounds/Words: While yourchild is an infant, repeat her babbles back to her. As your child grows, don’tever criticize your child’s speech. Instead, repeat his sentences or words backto him with the correct pronunciation or usage. 

10. Praise Speech Efforts: Give your child lots of praise forall efforts to communicate.

11. Stimulate Child: Differentexperiences stimulate children. Stimulation can be as simple as a daily walk ortrips to different parks around town or a special trip to a farm, zoo, or children’s museum.Talk about everything you see, feel, or hear. This will help your child developa love of learning and his language skills.

12. Hearing Loss: Make certain your child canhear. Treat ear infections thoroughly as they put your child at risk for hearing lossand  possible language delays. If your pediatrician prescribes an antibioticas treatment, dispense it to your child as directed and for the full time. Whenshe finishes the prescription, schedule a follow-up visit with your pediatrician to makecertain the infection has cleared. Robert Cohen of the National Dairy Counciladvises parents to be aware that children who have many ear infections areusually helped or even cured by substituting soy products for products made fromcow’s milk. However, Cohen warns parents to be careful that the soy products substitutedfor dairy products don’tcontain casein–a cow’s milk protein that contributes to ear infections.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, National Dairy Council, Michael Greger,MD.

Back to articles about signlanguage.

Questions and Answers aboutusing sign language with your baby or toddler.


More information about sign language for your baby or toddler.

Review  Sign with Your Baby
Buy Video
Buy Kit 
Buy Laminated Sign Buy DVD

Review  Pick Me Up: Songs for Learning Signs
Buy Music CD & Workbook



Teaching Your Baby Sign Language.

Don’t spend a fortune on books and videos for sign language products before you have experience. The truth is that sign language is not hard to learn for you or for your baby. I would only purchase two, possibly three, sign language items.

My recommendations for teaching your baby sign language:

1. Dr Joseph Garcia authored the classic in the sign language field: Sign With Your Baby.

Buy the video only or buy a kit which contains the video, a short and simple to understand book, plus a chart showing the signs. 

The sign language video is a must for the section on teaching sign language and the last section which demonstrates American Sign Language words. I would buy the kit to get the accompanying sign language book unless you buy the CD Pick Me Up at the same time. That CD includes a workbook. One sign language book is probably enough although both of these sign language books have their positive and different attributes.

Review  Sign with Your Baby
Buy Video
Buy Kit 
Buy Laminated Sign Buy DVD

2. At the same time I would add the music CD Pick Me Up for the signing and singing as well as the excellent sign language workbook for parents. This fun, interactive experience for you and your baby is all it normally takes to rapidly add words to your American Sign Language vocabulary. 

Review  Pick Me Up: Songs for Learning Signs Buy Music CD & Workbook

3. If at any time you or your babies are having problems learning sign language, purchase Baby See N Sign, Volume I. It presents American Sign Language words three different times: as a still picture, in slow motion, and at normal video speed.

Buy Video

Frankly, I believe the above three items are all you need to own. Borrow others from the library.

If you have an expanded budget, here are some other sign language products I would consider buying.

See sign language products I would not buy and the reasons I would not buy them here.

Why purchase any sign language items? Why not use the library for your sign language needs?

You probably need at least one sign language product on hand for reference. A CD of music to sign by teaches sign language daily. Plus your baby can watch a sign language video like Baby See N Sign to supplement your own signing.

Parents: Have you had experience with baby sign language? Will you share that sign language experience with CyberParent readers?If so, please click here. Wewould love to publish your baby’s or toddler’s success or failure with sign language. We will not usefull names, but would like to publish your general location. Thanks for your sign language assistance!

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