Our children tend to be late talkers. However, they have always founds ways to communicate their needs regardless of the spoken word. But to ease the struggle and frustration both for our kids and for ourselves, we have aimed to work on using sign language to better converse with our tiny tots.
In researching curriculum and resources for my kindergartener on Timberdoodle, I stumbled across their tiny tots collection. And in it I found 50 sign language cards to help families work on establishing great communication even before young kids can actually verbalize what they need and want.
I was thrilled to be sent the collection of Teach Your Baby to Sign cards after they reached out to me because it was exactly what we needed. My nearly two year old who had around 6-8 spoken words, now signs consistently and even says many of the signs we have taught her!
Surprisingly, she has never even said the word no yet.
Instead, we have tried to equip her with more specific, powerful, and provoking words.
9 powerful words every young baby and toddler should know
This is my second child’s very favorite word. It was also her first consistent word and to be honest it impressed me and relieved me.
She asserted herself enough to know when to set a boundary with her older sister and made it clear as to exactly what she wanted.
We also use the sign because in situations say where we can’t speak to each other like in a movie theater, in a danger situation, or when it could wake someone in the house, a simple sign is sufficient and powerful enough to get the kids to halt where they are or quit what they’re doing.
As the guide on the back of our sign language card suggests, this sign can be made generically or over a place where your child has an “owie”. When they’re so little it’s sometimes hard to understand when and where your child hurts and this simple sign made with two taping fingers can be so helpful!
It’s always so sweet and special to see my toddler wave me over and ask for help. After using the adapted version of the sign on the baby sign cards, she quickly began saying help both with and without the sign.And it’s now her second favorite word behind stop.
Which means our frustration fell dramatically. She could say help and point to something and it immediately made sense versus just crying over the situation.
[color-box]If you’re looking for other ways to better communicate with your young children, be sure to also save:
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I have to admit, my kids knew this word before we ever use the sign. And my mom taught my youngest this word and it’s her most articulate one yet with a gasp “HAUUGHHHTTTT”.
Teaching this word and sign is both for safety’s sake and also to help kids who have hard time regulating and adjusting to temperatures. Sometimes my youngest just wants to cuddle when she feels hot, but it only makes her hotter. So communicating the need has helped tremendously.
As suggested on the back of our sign language cards, we use the gesture of placing both hands together under our head when asking if she is ready for bed. This has taught her to sign bed when she is tired or even when she feels the need to just rest or retreat from the craziness in the house.
With a flattened “O” and fingertips placed against the mouth, my kids let me know they’re hungry. We have always used this one for “eat” and “food” and it’s an easy spoken word to learn, especially paired with the sign.
We try to differentiate between water and other drinks. And while I would use the sign for thirsty (also included in the set) drink is easier to decipher for us and our young kids.
This is an empowering word and sign for young kids to know because when they have had enough of something or somewhere they can easily let you know they need a break or want to leave.
I prefer to not let my kids get to the chattering teeth stage before understanding they are really cold. So we usually teach signs like this with hot and cold games to easily communicate temperature changes with physical touch and understanding of a somewhat abstract concept.
Extra words that are helpful and fun for young toddlers
Of course a young child might come throw a story in your lap, but knowing this sign can also indicate some quiet time or they can let you know they want another book before bed.
In our house, this sign doesn’t just mean dance, it means our children want to listen to music, make music, and play!
There have been many times in my parenting journey that I have instituted an afternoon bath with my young toddlers because they’re cranky. Teaching them this sign can both help you understand if they feel dirty/sticky, if they want to play in water, or just need a time to wind down because of the warm water.
While not in the set of cards we got, this is a sign that we have used with both kids regularly. It’s a “w” tapped to the chin. My youngest uses her pinger, taps her nose, and says “waaahh”.
In the end, we know what she is saying because she is adapting both the signs and sounds she has to convey the need to us!
More for your toddler!
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!