Australian Baby Hands Blog

Signing & Rhyming

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

There are many ways to introduce baby sign language into home. In the first instance, at Baby Hands we recommend starting around your routines of the day.  These include your routines or eating, drinking, playing, changing, bathing and sleeping.

It’s important to start slowly and choose only 6 signs, a combination of practical and motivational signs.  Once you have made your selection, the most important thing is to be consistent and use these signs regularly with your baby.  This forms part of the steps to baby signing success!

Once you have received your first sign back from baby, I get many emails from parents asking for the next step.  What else can they do to progress their baby’s signing journey?  To compliment your baby signing through routines, using songs is another fantastic way to do baby signing with your baby.  The first baby songs such as nursery rhymes and lullabies emerged in the 17th century and since then we have a wide range of nursery rhymes to choose from.

So why would you use a nursery rhyme when signing with your baby?  Firstly, there is a lot of research out there on the benefit of using song with your baby.  The research highlights some of the following benefits of using song with your baby:

  1. Reading ability:  Some early childhood development research highlighted a strong relationship between the ability to keep a steady beat and the ability to read.
  2. Spatial reasoning skills:  In research studies it was found that music training can improve children’s future intelligence.  This was demonstrated in the study with kids being able to solve complex math and geometry problems, navigate ships and design skyscrapers. One specific study highlighted that preschool children exposed to music lessons for eight months, their spatial reasoning skills far exceeded that of preschoolers without music training.
  3. Rhythmic Speech: Using song with your baby helps them with more rhythmic speech.
  4. Memory:  It is beneficial for baby’s memory recall.
  5. Confidence & Self-Esteem:  It helps with their self-expressions and self-esteem.

These are just a handful of the benefits of using song with your baby.

But what if you add in baby sign language, does this change the benefits you are exposing your baby to?  The answer is YES.  There has been a lot of research into the use of baby sign language with song.

In a recent study, groups of babies and their parents spent six months participating in one of two types of weekly music instruction. One music class involved interactive music-making and learning a small set of lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. Parents and infants worked together to learn to play percussion instruments, take turns, do actions(sign) and sing specific songs.

In the other music class, infants and parents played at various toy stations while recordings from the popular “Baby Einstein” series played in the background.

The outcome from this study was that the children who were involved in the interactive class showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music preferring to listen to piano music that was played in key versus out of key notes.  They also larger/earlier brain responses to musical tones. Babies from the interactive classes also  showed better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye. Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.

In my Australian Baby Hands Book, there is a piece of research that I mention which highlights where 80 children were divided into 4 groups.  Each group were taught using sign and song, sign and spoken word, song only and spoken word.  The outcome was that the children who used a combination of sign and song had the biggest increase in vocabulary.

So next time you are signing your baby their favourite nursery rhyme add in a few signs at the same time, it’s more than just fun, it’s active learning 🙂






Your Bedtime Routine & Baby Sign Language

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

I have had many friends and families talk about the importance of getting their baby into a routine especially in relation to their baby’s sleep. Once this routine is established, it results in a happier baby and happier less sleepy parents.

But have you considered using baby sign language to help you establish and support this important routine in your life. Baby sign language is something that is simple to learn and easy to incorporate into this vital process – the Bedtime Routine.

The key to establishing a successful bedtime routine for your baby is consistency. This too is a key to success for baby sign language. For this reason, using baby sign language to support your baby’s bedtime routine is a great way to conquer two great systems at the same time, that will benefit you and your baby.

To help you establish your bedtime routine, below are some suggestions on how you can incorporate baby sign language into this routine which will ease your baby’s transition to sleep time.

  • Most parents bedtime routine starts after dinner with a bath. The great thing about using baby sign language is that it lets your baby know what’s going to happen next. There are no surprises for baby.
  • So before placing your baby in the bath, sign and say the word “bath” to let them know what is about to happen. Once the bath is over, sign the word “finished” to let them know that it is time to leave the water and get ready for bed.
  • Following a bath, some parents will brush their baby’s teeth. This is another sign you can use to establish the routine. This is done by brushing your index finger on your teeth like a toothbrush. Once this is done, you again can sign “finished” to let baby know it is time to stop.
  • Once baby is ready for bed, some parents like to read a bedtime story to them. Reading is very beneficial for your baby and a great way to introduce and reinforce baby sign language to your child. When you begin the activity, sign the word “book” to let you baby know that its story time. Choose a simple book and select some words or illustrations to sign to your baby. Again at the end of the story, you can sign finished. This again lets your baby know that the activity has ended.
  • Following the bedtime story, it is time for bed. Sign the word “bed” and place them in their cot / bed. Some parents like to sign “Good night” and “I love You” at this stage also.

Following a routine such as the one outlined above is a great way for you to practice your signs with your baby and to let your baby know what is happening next prior to doing an activity.

Many childcare centres who have incorporated baby sign into their centres have found that using the signs has resulted in a calmed child care centre as the baby’s know what is happening next and begin to know the routines through the baby signs used.

So why not get started with baby sign today and begin using it in your baby’s bedtime routine and see what results you get!

International Adoption Frustration Eased with Baby Sign Language

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


International adoption is a great opportunity for families. And bringing small children into your home—whether biologically yours or not—comes with its own set of challenges. Big opportunities for success come in the early stages of the child’s adjustment into their new home. Australian Baby Hands wants to help you ensure early wins during this process. One of the keys is to ease frustration for these children who may have difficulties communicating due to language barriers.

Your adopted child may be exposed to a whole new language which they need to learn or you may continue to use their native language and introduce a second language. If exposing them to the new language of their adoptive country (more…)

The Difference in Language Acquisition for Signing and Non-Signing Children

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

I recently read an article which highlighted in a table the differences between a signing baby and their non-signing counterpart in language acquisition.  This table appeared on an American blog called Baby Sign Shine and I thought it would be great to share it with all you Aussie parents and create an Australian version of the table below.  If you could spare 30 seconds, I would really appreciate your input to understand the key milestones Australian parents are experiencing in relation to language acquisition with their signing baby.   (more…)

Using Sign Language with Preschoolers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Many parents wonder what will happen to their children’s signs as they get older and if there is any benefit in continuing to use sign language with them.  Will they continue to use their signs once they develop speech?  If so, what is the benefit of using sign language with verbal Pre-schoolers?

Baby sign language is not only beneficial for pre-verbal children but it has also proven to be beneficial for verbal Pre-schoolers.  It is never too late to introduce to sign language to your child and to begin experiencing the benefits.

So what are these benefits? (more…)

Clarifying Motivational Signs

Monday, September 26th, 2011

What’s the definition of motivational signs? Parents approach this definition differently and the result is different parents introduce different motivational signs.

The key difference is that by introducing motivational signs correctly some babies will be signing back a lot sooner than others.

So I thought I would try and highlight a couple of the most common motivational signs I have seen and how they have resulted in a signing success story. (more…)

Baby Sign Language & Travel

Monday, August 29th, 2011

How many of you have previously travelled with a baby, cialis toddler or young child? How many of you have travelled with more than one child? With school holidays fast approaching, many families have already booked their holidays. Whether it’s a long or short journey, kids need to be entertained. Have you ever thought about using baby sign language to entertain your kids while travelling?

Over the past 6 months I have travelled both domestically and internationally and witnessed parents using different tactics to entertain their children while travelling. Some used portable dvd players, some had toys, some had books and some had timed the travel so it coincided with sleep time but no one seemed to be using baby sign language. So I thought I would use this opportunity to highlight how you can use baby sign language for a less stressful journey.

So why would you use baby sign language over any of the above methods mentioned? Baby sign language is a fun, educational interaction which when used while travelling can expose you to the many benefits of baby sign language.

One benefit which is great if you are travelling on public transport such as buses, planes and trains is how quiet but fun it can be. On all modes of transport you will have an assigned seat where you need to stay until you have reached your destination. The problem is getting a toddler or young child to sit still can be quite a task. So here are some ideas for making travel a more peaceful, stressful, fun experience for you and your child.

Use Your Surroundings:

When travelling, you can use both the surroundings inside as well as outside to have fun with using baby sign language. Using the signs, “where”, “yes” and “no”, you can sign “where” and add a sign after it for whatever it is you want your child to point to. For example Mum signs “Where’s teddy?”.

You would then encourage your child to point to the teddy and sign teddy and you could sign back “yes teddy” or “no” if they point at the wrong thing. When they get it right, you can use the signed round of applause sign which is having both hands bent at the elbow, hands at shoulder height, palms facing out and rotate your hands from side to side by moving your wrists. This is a great way to do a round of applause silently.

Your surroundings could include some of the following: “bird”, “blanket”, “book”, “drink”, “house”, “milk”, “music”, “rain”, “sun”, “water”, “toilet”, “brother”, “mum”, “dad”, “sister”, “aunt”, “uncle”, “car”, “dog” etc. These are just a sample of word from the Baby Hands book & dvd to get you started.

You can also build on this vocabulary to include signs such as “up, down, clouds, plane” if you are travelling on a plane. If travelling on a train or bus, you can include signs such as “tree”, “animal”, “fast”, “slow”, “stop”.

Use Books:

As well as reading with your baby to try and entertain them on your journey, playing baby sign language games is a great way to keep them entertained. Using the illustrations, you can play the “where is” game mentioned above.

The ABC signs can be really fun for kids of all ages. Using your alphabet book from home, sign a letter and then have your child find the letter in the book. Use the “applause” sign to celebrate with your child when they are correct. This is a great game to play with siblings as both older and younger kids love to sign and it will also help encourage sibling signing.

This game could go on for quite some time if you are to go through all letters of the alphabet. If your child is a little older, they can sign to you and you can find the letter.

Once you are finished with the alphabet, there are always numbers to play with. Use a book and ask “how many” of a particular item they see. You can count for them or with them and sign along as you say the numbers. You will be amazed at how fast they will pick it up.

Finally, you cannot forget your animals and colours. For colours, sign “where” and ask your child where a certain colour is on your shirt, his shirt or in the book. You could also point to colours around the airplane and encourage your child to sign the colour.

For animals, many books consist of stories about animals. Again, sign “where” and have the child find the page on which that animal can be found. All kids love animals and animal signs. Once you have found all the animals in a book, you could then try singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and add the animals in the book. Its great fun and your kids will love it!

Another option is to read with your baby while signing which is a really is a great way to help your child learn the signs and feel engaged in the story.

So next time you go travelling, why not try some of the baby sign language travel games mentioned above and let me know what success you had.

Happy Travel Signing!

Universal Baby Signs

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

cute-baby-in-hatI have just spent the last two weeks at home in Ireland visiting friends and family and got to catch up with lots of new baby’s that have been born.

These babies ranged in ages from 3-6 months and there were an equal split of boys and girls. Of these 6 children, cialis one mum had actively decided to try baby sign language from day one, cialis some decided to wait until their baby was at the best age to start baby sign and some (more…)

Apraxia And Baby Sign Language

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

verbal-apraxiaBaby sign language is usually only thought of in the context of understanding a baby’s wants and needs but having a basic knowledge of baby sign language has proven to be a helpful intervention with children diagnosed with special needs including Apraxia.

Sign language provides a multi-sensory input that children with Apraxia need to in order to develop normal speech. In addition, it helps children with Apraxia receive many of the same social (more…)

Autism and Baby Sign Language

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

autism-baby-sign-languageAutism is something which is very close to my heart. When I was 10 years old my baby brother Patrick was born. I was the very proud older sister but as the months passed, my baby brother was not like all my other friends’ baby brothers. I remember when Patrick was 3 years old and was still not talking. This was causing a lot of anxiety for my parents and a lot of frustration for Patrick.

Sometimes there were temper tantrums, sometimes we knew what he wanted first guess. He seemed locked away in his own world and we did not have the tools to reach him. While Patricks diagnosis took a number of years before it was confirmed, during this pre-verbal time, baby sign language would have been a fun and useful tool to use with my baby brother.

I believe it would have made a real difference in Patricks early years. Patrick loved books (more…)