Talking with your child before they can speak

  • Non-verbal communication is key even as adults, but often it is the only method our babies and toddlers have at all. Through pointing, grunts, and head shakes my daughter can tell us if she’s hungry, thirsty, tired, and a number of other needs and wants. If your child hasn’t mastered speaking, baby sign language is often an excellent method of communicating. It is easier for some children to make basic signs than to speak, allowing them to effectively communicate without ever saying a word. How do you communicate with your child?

  • I took a few sign language classes in college and used signs that I learned in my classes with my son.  He was able to communicate to me what he needed/wanted to me to the amazement of others.  He never really seemed to get frustrated and cry when trying to communicate with me.  Now that he is 2 1/2 he still uses the signs as well as speech and has even tried to teach his 1 month old brother signs. 

  • Monkeypanda- I totally agree that he probably doesn't get frustrated often b/c you have given him a way to communicate. My children were both early talkers and have never really had tantrums. I think it is so important to give non-verbal children a way to communicate. It really helps prevent meltdowns. I also try to give my children words for how they are feeling. The Happiest Toddler on the Block explains how to do that very well.

  • I've always talked with my babies from the day they're born. My thought is that the more they hear language, the better they will develop their verbal skills, plus gives them a sense that they are a part of the family that is important enough to be included in conversation. It also helps them understand their world better. My youngest had a very developed understanding of what was being said to her before she could really speak. She just turned two and has is speaking in sentences with amazing understanding of her world. Now, I'm not saying that talking to her since she was an infant did this (in fact my older daughter didn't talk until she was 2!) but I think it certainly played a role.