Sign for the Times
Introducing sign language to babies between 13 and 15 months may greatly help children with communication skills, say some experts. Because babies learn to coordinate their large muscles before refining small-muscle control, learning how to move their head or make a hand sign for a word is easier for them at this age than combining the intricate motions of tongue, lips, and jaw to say new words. "We see children demonstrating less frustration, and having fewer tantrums, if parents can teach them a few simple signs for words," notes Davies.
Although there are standardized Baby Signs programs, most parents can easily make up their own signs. Just choose simple gestures to perform, and be sure that everyone uses the same sign every time, and that the adults are consistent in pairing the sign with the word. For instance, you can teach your child to touch his hand to his mouth when he wants to say "eat," and you can say, "Eat? Okay!"
- Cruises furniture or takes first steps alone
- Can take objects in and out of containers
- Throws objects
- Helps to dress and undress self
- Attempts to use utensils
- Plays alone for short periods of time
- Walks independently
- Follows simple commands
- Able to pound pegs into a workbench
Holly Robinson lives with her five children outside of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2006.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.