Babies begin to mimic what they see from a very early age, often cooing as part of an exchange with a caregiver long before they are able to communicate linguistically. This is why babies typically begin signing back earlier than they begin speaking. When introducing sign language to babies, it is important to sign and speak with them at the same time. For example, when signing “more” to an infant who may want more food, it is advisable to say, “Do you want more?” While signing the word more.
For older infants, who have not had previous sign language exposure, it is fine to start with the recommended signs for the younger age range. Chances are that they will be able to pick up the signs quickly and continue learning new ones as they are introduced. As long as the signs are taught in context and are signed often, the child will benefit from them.
Toddler signs become more specific to their feelings and important components of their daily lives. Toddlers are at an age where they are becoming aware of themselves, their feelings, needs, and the labels or names associated with their world. This is why signs such as happy, Aunt, friend, and bathroom are commonly taught to this age group.
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