Most children begin talking around 12 months old with babies trying to communicate much earlier. As a parent, you will know how frustrating it is when your baby or toddler starts crying and you are unable to identify why. Using signing is a way of teaching them to communicate their feelings, needs, and preferences without whining and crying.
In addition, the possible benefit of using signing with your little ones is their earlier ability to understand and to use spoken words. Signing can also support closer interaction and bonding between parent and child.
At 18 months, your child will be using lots of babbling sounds and by now should have a vocabulary of approximately 20 words. This will increase to over 50 by the time they reach 2 years. Constantly applying labels to objects and talking about what you are doing will help to develop language.
Replicating actions on teddy or a doll is a fun way to engage in imaginative play, but start with real objects used in real situations e.g. the child feeds the doll whilst they are being fed etc. Your child should be able to use everyday objects appropriately e.g. using a spoon to stir and begin to generalise that even though they may differ in colour, shape or texture they are all spoons as they are used for the same purpose.
In addition, your child should begin to have an understanding that pictures and photographs can represent the real objects and words. Using the addition of the sign when speaking will help to embed this.When beginning a signing session, ensure your little one is comfortable and relaxed. Start using signs with real objects in real situations wherever possible, remembering to always speak using appropriate facial expression and body language where applicable. Your little ones first signs will be inaccurate but accept this as positive communication and offer praise.