How To Teach Baby Sign Language To Your Baby

Prior to mastering the art of speech, your baby has great difficulty in communicating his needs to you. This can cause frustration for you both - yet there is a solution. Baby sign language is rapidly becoming popular as a means of recognizing - and responding to - a baby's needs.

You can start very early in teaching your baby sign language but at around seven to eight months they start to take notice of your signing.  It is important to understand that babies can communication very well with sign language rather than with speech at this young age.

Some parents fear that using baby sign language may hamper their child's speech development later on. Research into this subject, however, shows that children taught baby sign in infancy go on to develop superb language skills. In some cases, they may learn to speak earlier and often have an increased ability to learn a second language.

Baby Sign Language
There are other benefits to introducing baby sign language. Studies indicate that children who sign often develop a higher than average IQ. The major advantage for parents, of course, is to be able to identify their baby's needs and respond appropriately, easing the frustrations that can lead to tantrums. Once this channel of communication is open, many parents feel that a deeper bond with their child is formed, creating a great sense of harmony.

There are several available methods that can help you learn to sign with your baby.  Learning along with your baby will be fun as no prior knowledge is needed. Make sure that when you introduce a sign to your baby that you also say the word.  It is also important to use the signs consistently no matter where you are.  Another important thing to note is to make sure that your child's care givers also are able to sign with your  child.

Most people prefer to use a conventional sign language while other parents like to invent their own signs that they teach to their children.  However, using conventional signing means that other people will be able to recognize the signs.  In order to learn this new skill, you will need a book or DVDs or possibly even flashcards; all of which are available on the market.

Taking into account the benefits that this simple communication can bring, it's no wonder that more and more parents are using baby sign language and achieving a fascinating insight into their babies' minds!

Toddler Sleep Issues

As your baby gets older and turns into a toddler, they’ll start to need less sleep during the day, but about 11 hours or so at night. You’ll be transitioning to fewer naps and even a cranky tired baby can have difficulty getting to sleep.

If your child will to go to bed only if you're around, he's forming bad habit that will be hard to break later. The best lesson you can teach him is how to soothe himself to sleep.

Follow a nightly bedtime ritual (bath, books, and bed, for example) so he knows what's expected of him and what to expect at night. You can tell him that if he stays in bed you'll come back in five minutes to check on him. Let him know that he's safe and that you'll be nearby.

Toddlers are great negotiators, and they're no different when it comes to bedtime. And because they so enjoy the time they spend with you, they'll do what they can to prolong the time they have with you. Your child may take his time doing his usual nightly routine, ask repeatedly for a glass of water, or keep requesting that you come to his room because he needs something.

If you suspect he's stalling, don't let him. Tell him it's time for bed and that he can finish working on his art project the next day or find the stuffed bunny the following morning.  Make the nighttime routine more “business like” when you kiss your baby and tuck him/her in.  Don’t wait around for your baby to fuss.  Just leave and close the door and wait about ten minutes before you go back in the room.

Sometimes it’s just a battle for control. Your toddler wants to control his environment as much as possible. You can’t force him to fall asleep. Try reverse psychology and tell him he doesn’t have to go to sleep, but can play in his crib. Eventually, he’ll fall asleep on his own.

Music for Babies

You’ve probably seen videos and CDs for babies. There are some theories that classical music can make your baby smarter, and exposing your baby to music is part of what we do to introduce them to all the sights and sounds of their world.

Music can definitely help calm your baby down and put him in a restful state at bedtime or nap time. What are some good choices for a baby?

Almost anything you love or use for relaxation is good for a baby too. There are good collections of Mozart or Bach for bedtime. The music of Enya can be very soothing as well. Georgia Kelly’s harp music is also relaxing and peaceful.

When your baby’s awake, there are lots of nursery rhymes or music from kids’ movies that can stimulate his senses. We’ve known kids who respond to minimalist Philip Glass’s music; it’s simple and rhythmic and when they get older, they’ll dance with it. Spirituals and soft gospel music are also good choices to help the baby get to sleep.

White noise, in the form of a fan (not directed right at the baby), or from sound machines that simulate the sound of an ocean or rain can be restful as well, and can block out noise from the home.

You don’t need to create an artificially silent environment for the baby, however, since that can make it harder for them to get to sleep when the home’s rhythms and noises get back to normal.

This is a great time for you to explore classical music as well, if it’s not already part of your life. The same music that’s helping your baby get to sleep can help soothe your own nerves and provide a wonderful time of bonding and restfulness for you and your baby together.

Nap Time for Baby

A new baby needs a lot of sleep and when they’re not sleeping, they can be hungry or need a diaper change. It’s a little hard to know in the beginning what’s making your baby cry or if he’s tired.

But as you both begin to settle into your routines, you’ll begin to notice the cues that your baby needs to nap. You want to make sure he gets in good naps during the day and at appropriate times so that you won’t have as much trouble getting him to sleep at night.

Even a very small baby will rub his eyes when he gets tired. He’ll yawn; perhaps he’ll get fussy. As children get a little older, their activity levels may pick up as they get tired and try to avoid sleep.

Try to keep to regular nap times during the day. If you’re baby is napping 3 times a day, then a mid-morning, early afternoon and late-afternoon nap is appropriate for a baby with a 7:30 or 8 PM bed time.

Often babies get tired towards dinner time, and then parents are faced with a dilemma. Do you let the baby sleep and risk not getting to sleep at bedtime? Or you do you try to keep him awake through dinner and perhaps put him to bed a little bit earlier?

Most parents will opt for trying to keep the baby awake a little longer in favor of keeping to a regular bed time. But if it’s been a busy day for the little guy, let him have a very short nap and then wake him up gently for dinner or a feeding and some light play before putting him to bed for the night.

Remember to make rituals for naps as well as bed time so your baby gets used to sleeping at regular times.

Moving Baby to the Nursery

When you bring your new baby home, you probably will have the urge to keep your baby near you at all times, especially when you (try to) go to sleep for the night.

It makes sense to have a crib or cradle in your bedroom at first, since it will minimize the distance you have to walk to handle nighttime feedings.

You can try moving the baby into the nursery for naps right from the beginning, to try to minimize any trauma or anxiety by moving him or her into a strange room with new smells and sights when their a little older.

Sit with your baby in a rocker or glider and rock them to sleep at first, then move your baby into their crib.

Later, you can put your baby in the crib and if they are fussy or can’t get to sleep, try sitting near the crib for a few nights until they fall asleep. Then move the chair further away for another week or so.

Finally, position the chair near the door, so the baby gets used to falling asleep without being right next to you.

It will be hard in the beginning, but if you’re consistent, eventually, you’ll get your baby to the point where they can fall asleep in their own room.

Start to establish a nighttime routine, so your baby knows what to expect. A nice, warm bath, followed by changing into soft clean pajamas is a good start.

Even a very young baby can be read to at bedtime. You can also sing to them and just talk to them. The sound of your voice is what matters so your baby feels safe and secure enough to fall asleep.

By starting these simple routines early, hopefully you’ll avoid trouble later on trying to move the baby into their nursery and getting them to sleep at a normal time.

Sleep Requirements for Baby

As a new mother, you probably wonder whether your baby is sleeping enough, or sleeping too much. There are guidelines on what to expect, but of course these can vary from baby to baby. Even if you’ve had children before, each baby will be different.

Newborn babies usually sleep about 16-17 hours in a 24-hour period. Most babies will not sleep through the night until they’re at least 3 months old. There are several reasons why. First of all, their stomachs are very small and they’ll get hungry faster, especially if you’re breastfeeding your baby. Breast milk is much more easily digested than formula, and your baby will need to feed more often, especially in the beginning.

Babies also have shorter sleep cycles than adults do and have shorter dream cycles. In general, though, a newborn baby should sleep about eight or nine hours during the day and eight hours or so at night. These won’t be in eight-hour cycles, of course. In the beginning, those sleep times will be very short.

As the baby gets older, up to about two years of age, she’ll still be sleeping 13-14 hours, but the amount of daytime sleep will diminish month-by-month. By age two, your baby should be sleeping through the night with a two-hour nap during the day. Again, this will vary by child. Your baby might need a slightly longer nap or two short naps. At this age though, try to discourage naps too late in the afternoon, as this can make it harder to get them to sleep a few hours later at bed time.

Once a baby begins to regularly sleep through the night, parents are often dismayed when he/she begins to awaken in the night again. This typically happens at about six months of age and is often a normal part of development called separation anxiety, when a baby does not understand that separations are temporary.

Bathing Your Baby

Bath time is a special time for bonding with a baby and parents. It’s a time to play gently, talk and sing. Get everything you will need ready before you start. The list includes water (of course), washcloth, alcohol pads, bath towel (with hood if you have one), clean diaper, any items you routinely use during a diaper change and fresh clothes.

Use a special baby wash and baby shampoo, preferably natural ones with calendula oils; regular soaps and shampoos can be too harsh or drying. Babies lose body heat very quickly, so make sure the room is warm, 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

Gently cradle your baby's head in one hand and use the other hand to remove the clothing. Gently wash the baby with a soft, warm washcloth, and dry them off with a towel. If you like, you can wash one area at a time and put a fresh item of clothing on as soon as an area is washed and dried. This is not necessary unless you are in a chilly room.

It’s a good idea to start with the "less dirty" areas first, i.e. leave the diaper area until last, so you’re not washing the baby in dirty water. As you go, be sure to gently wash behind her ears; the crevices in the neck, elbows, and knees; and in between fingers and toes.

It's a good idea to wash a newborn's hair near the end of bath time. This will help prevent the baby from losing too much body heat. Most newborns don't have much hair, so it is easy to sponge it with water much the same way you do the rest of the body.

Almost all babies dislike getting their eyes wet. If you tip the head back just a bit and work your way from the front to the back, you can avoid getting water in your baby's eyes.

Nursery Setup

The most important part of any nursery is the crib. You want to make it safe and cozy. No matter what type of crib you get, make sure it conforms to all safety guidelines and standards.

Make sure the crib mattress fits snugly against the rails, so the baby can’t get wedged between them. You also want to be sure the crib sheet fits snug and tight, nothing loose or bunched up.

Until the baby is at least a year old, you don’t want to use sheets or blankets. A comforter or quilt should be for decoration only in that first year. Make sure the baby’s sleepwear is clean and soft and appropriate for her age and for the weather. You don’t want them too warm or too cold, as babies can’t regulate their own body temperatures at first.

The only crib accessory that you want inside the crib when the baby’s sleeping is perhaps a small, foam wedge that you can use to keep the baby from rolling on her stomach. Sleeping on her back or on her side is the position many experts recommend at first.

The sheets should always be fresh and clean; use unscented detergent in case your baby’s sensitive to fragrances.

Keep the room dust-free and the space underneath the crib clutter-free, so it won’t accumulate dust. If your baby’s sensitive to dust, you don’t want to trigger a bout of sneezing and a runny nose at bedtime or naptime.

Make the room and bed sheeting colors soft and restful. Too much color and contrast will stimulate the baby’s vision and keep her alert, just when you want her to wind down for bedtime or a nap. The baby’s room and crib should be soft and inviting places to be. She has busy days there’s so much to learn and do! The crib needs to be a place that’s calm and restful for her.