First words, are you there yet?

In my recent post, I had written about how wonderfully synchronized the verbal communication is. Click here to read.

However, on the flip side, what if those first words don’t come and you are concerned. First words happen between 12-18 months. For some children, it’s even later.

Using baby signs is a great way to help children communicate, because babies develop their ability to use gestures (8- 10 months), before using spoken language. With my daughter, I started signing to her when she was 6 months old. Even though, she didn’t use them until later, around 10 months, it was her first attempt to communicate with us. We were beyond rejoiced when she signed for ‘more’. After that, she went on to use signs like ‘please/house/book/eat’.

Signing was the first way we connected and it is proven by research, that it accelerates the development of speech and language in a child. So, when my nephew was born, we did the same and reaped the same results. I have two successful studies in my household.

The most frequent word my nephew signs and asks for is ‘more’ because children want more of everything. That sign, has created lots of fun and quite a stir in the family. It is fun to watch him sign, but then the demand never stops. He has learnt the power of communication. Great, isn’t it!

Therefore, here are few tips for doing signs:

  • Sign anyway- Do not think that children are too young; both our children were stimulated using signs (around 6 months) and spoken language very early on. So, when they were physically able to use their bodies, it came naturally and effectively.
  • Sign and say the word- If the child wants more, then sign ‘more’ and say it at the same time. You can also encourage the child to say ‘mmm’ for more, when you sign.
  • Signs are only a temporary tool for communication. Instead of putting pressure on the child to speak, signs can pave the way for using words. Once the child learns the sign, uses it implicitly and gets what he/she wants. Then, naturally they will add sounds to it and words to it.
  • Play lots of turn taking games at home. For e.g. Peek-a-boo. If the child enjoys it, then sign for ‘more’. The more you model and stimulate the child; eventually he/she will sign for it.

I hope these signs can serve as a starting point for all parents:

Image Source: Super Duper Publications Early language Handout

Have fun signing with your little ones!


  • Super Duper Publication, Early Language Handouts

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