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Identifying Baby Skin Conditions

Posted on August 26 2020

Aside from learning your baby’s non-verbal cues, teaching him/her basic sign language can help you understand his/her needs better. This is particularly useful when your baby reaches about nine months to two years old. During this time, his/her vocabulary may be growing but still limited, thus sign language may aid you in understanding what he/she wants.

 

The Potential Benefits

Most importantly, you get to understand your baby’s thoughts and needs a little better, so that you can respond to what he/she needs quickly. Hence, your baby will have lesser tantrums, since you’d understand what he/she needs. You can start as early as four to six months old, but your baby will likely initiate signing back to you only as soon as six to 10 months on-wards.

 

Research conducted with small studies was inconclusive to prove that babies gain any significant cognitive or language advantage over a non-signing baby. However, it may give a developing infant a way to communicate before he/she learns vocal communication. Thus, when your child is between 8 months and two years, this may help to ease frustration for both you and your child. At the very least, because of the time spent trying to teach your child baby sign language, you also pick up on your child’s nonverbal cues and gestures to understand his/her needs.

 

 

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

Start with signs that express his/her needs. Obvious choices include being hungry, thirsty and sleepy. Although you may have chosen a particular sign to represent a need, your baby may invent his/her own sign, so do follow that when possible. Next, speak and sign at the same time to help your baby develop his/her language skills, so your baby co-relates the sign and the word you just said. Of course, repetition is key, so make sure you sign consistently and frequently.

 

Increase the signs’ visibility by signing close to your face. As your baby loves to look at your face and eyes, doing so helps your baby notice them better. Similarly, if you’re signing for an object, ensure you make the sign close to, or on top of the object. When your baby does sign to you, do “reward” him/her by taking immediate action, such as giving your child the milk he/she requested for promptly.

 

Another way to help your little one learn is to hold your baby on your lap, back to your stomach, and use his/her hands to make the signs. Do these while doing various activities, such as bathing, diapering, feeding, or reading to your little one to give them proper context.

 

When teaching your little one, research suggests that iconic signs (signs that represent the word, like “milk”) are more helpful for your babies. However, some non-iconic signs that also include “mummy” and “daddy” may also be fun for your child to learn. The most effective approach to communicating with your child, is to pay attention to him/her and respond to their attempts and gesturing and verbalising. Use speech and transparent gestures like pantomime and pointing to “talk” with your little one.

 

 

Resources for Baby Sign Language

Resources for learning baby sign language in Singapore include Baby Signs Singapore, which is currently offering Zoom classes ($200). Otherwise, there are books or online resources that teach baby sign language. Do note the signs may differ, so choose a language that you’re comfortable with and can remember easily. Sign language for your baby doesn’t have to be just a mother-child bonding activity - rope in your spouse, parents, in-laws or other caretakers so that they’re also familiar with such signs.

 

Next, take it easy and start with just a few signs, and don’t overwhelm your baby. Learning baby sign language is supposed to reduce frustration instead of adding to it. Of course, when your baby does respond and imitate your signing, it may not be perfect, so acknowledge it and respond so your baby is interested and motivated to keep signing.

 

 

12 Basic Signs

All done: Start with your upturned palms close together, then turn them over and move outwards

Daddy: Open your palm, with your fingers facing upward. Next, tap your forehead with your thumb.

Drink: Cup your hand and place it to your mouth

Eat: Tap your fingertips to your mouth with your palm down and your thumb touching your fingers.

Food: With closed fingertips, bring your hand to your mouth.

Hungry: Rub your belly

Milk: Open and close your fist as if you were milking a cow

More: Tap your fingertips together

Mummy: Open your palm, with your fingers facing upward and tap your thumb to your chin.

Potty: Put your hand in a fist and shake it from side to side.

Sleep: Extend your fingers and spread apart. Move your hand from over your face down to below your chin, with your fingers touching your thumb. Additionally, to act this out, you can relax your face and let your eyes get droopy.

Water: Put three fingers up and tap your index finger on your chin.

 

Credits: Omar Lopez, Nathan Dumlao, Helena Lopes, Baby Sign Language, Speech and Language Kids, Speech and Language Kids, Newborn Care - Deciphering Your Baby’s Needs, Developmental MIlestones - Newborn to 1 Year

 

Help your little one care for her delicate skin by learning about these common skin conditions and how to treat them. Some of the common skin conditions that your baby might have include dry skin, as well as birthmarks and diaper rash. Learn how to prevent some of these conditions, where possible, and also to treat them.

 

Dry Skin

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is fairly common among babies from one to three months of age. Typically, you may notice rough, scaly patches and flaky skin on the scalp, usually white or yellow and dry or greasy. This may appear on the scalp, face, upper chest, and back. Unlike eczema, it’s not itchy or irritating, so your little one will not feel any discomfort. Mild cradle cap should resolve itself within a few days with treatment.

 

Look out for your baby’s skin turning red, orange or inflamed, or if he/she develops a fever. Severe cradle cap that resists treatment may be associated with immune system problems. Otherwise, you can use a gentle baby shampoo with no fragrance on your baby’s scalp daily, and apply a couple drops of baby or mineral oil and massage into the scales. Alternatives include coconut and sunflower oil.

Peeling After Birth

After birth, your baby’s outer layer may shed, most noticeably on the hands, soles of the feet and the ankles. The amount varies according to when your baby was born, and how much vernix your baby had on his/her skin at birth. This will go away on its own without needing special care.

Eczema

One of the most common skin conditions is eczema or atopic dermatitis, which may cause dry, red and itchy patches. You may need to avoid irritants like some shampoo and detergents, dairy and soy products and wheat - try these products instead. Additionally, try special moisturising creams for eczema.

Ichthyosis

If you notice dry or itchy skin, with polygon-shaped scales that are brown, grey or white, or a flaky scalp and thickened skin, your baby may have ichthyosis. This can begin at birth or in the first few years, and may disappear during childhood. For some, it may return in adulthood.

Have your paediatrician look at this. He/she will likely ask about your family history, when it first began and if your little one has any other skin conditions. Aside from recording where the patches of dry skin appear, he/she may also perform a blood test or skin biopsy.

 

This can be treated with keratolytics, or retinoids. Use moisturisers to improve the skin’s dryness, and avoid soap. Other options include shampoos with salicylic acid, and brushing the hair to remove the scales. A humidifier, short bath times up to 10 minutes with lukewarm water and fragrance-free and soap-free cleansers, and keeping your baby hydrated also can help this condition. Protect your newborn’s face from the wind and cold air, and avoid harsh chemicals and use a detergent for sensitive skin.

 

Bath time: Try brands like Gaia, Twinkle Baby and Mustela.

 

 

Red Bumps or Growths

Heat Rash

In babies, heat rash presents as clusters of small, often moist red bumps resembling pimples or blisters. These usually appear on the face, the folds of the neck, arms, legs, diaper area and upper chest. Your baby may be cranky and restless due to the itching and tingly “prickly” pain, and may have difficulty sleeping.

 

Use a mild soap and lukewarm water during bath time and then pat dry. Keep your baby cool and dry with a fan, and avoid powders, oils and lotions. Where possible, you can let your baby wander around the house without clothes. Try not to baby-wear your little one in a carrier or sling for too long, and dress him/her in loose-fitting, breathable clothes. In hot weather, seek refuge in air-conditioned spots. Do call your paediatrician if your baby’s rash lasts for three or more days, and look out for pustules and swelling- this might indicate a yeast or bacterial infection.

Hives

In infants, you may notice varying sizes of bumps or patches on the skin - usually red or pink with white centres. Other symptoms include the skin swelling, itching, stinging, burning, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen. They might appear on the face, hands, feet and genitals, as well as other parts of the body. Some causes include food and other allergens, viral or bacterial infections, environmental factors and medications. Do contact your paediatrician, as he/she can best advise you on giving your baby oral antihistamines, or steroids.

 

Should the symptoms include breathing problems, closing of the throat and wheezing, your infant may need emergency medical care. Examples of these include higher-level prescription medication or hospitalisation. Otherwise, you should be able to treat this with the oral medications. Find out what triggered the rash and keep your infant away from the allergens. Additionally, use a cool compress to relieve your little one’s discomfort - the hives should go away without treatments.

Impetigo

Signs and symptoms of impetigo usually include red sores that rupture, ooze for a few days and then form a yellowish-brown crust, typically around the nose and mouth. However, this can also spread to other areas of the body. Other types of impetigo include bullous impetigo, with large blisters on your baby’s trunk, or ecthyma, painful fluid or pus-filled sores that become deep ulcers. Definitely see your child’s paediatrician if you suspect your little one has impetigo.

 

Most common in children from two to five, it spreads easily in schools and childcare settings, so keep your child at home until the paediatrician confirms he/she is not contagious. The bacteria enters the body via small skin injuries, insect bites or rashes. Treat this with an antibiotic ointment or cream - you may need to soak the affected area in warm water or use wet compresses before applying the ointment or cream.

 

In terms of prevention, wash cuts, scrapes, insect bites or other wounds correctly. Reduce the spread by washing the affected areas with mild soap and running water, then cover with gauze. Don’t share your baby’s clothes, linens and towels with anyone and wash them daily. Wear gloves when applying the ointment and wash your hands well afterwards. Additionally, keep your baby’s nails short so he/she doesn’t scratch.

Infant Acne

Triggering infant acne are maternal hormones still circulating in your baby’s bloodstream from pregnancy. After stimulating your little one’s oil-producing glands, your baby may develop red pimples on the chin, eyelids, cheeks, forehead, neck, upper chest and back.

 

Instead of squeezing or picking the acne, cleanse the area with warm water twice to thrice a day, and gently pat skin dry. Breast milk may also help since it has antimicrobial properties. Otherwise, ask your paediatrician for a prescription or over-the-counter medication for your baby. Next, monitor and wait for them to disappear in a few months.

 

 

Birthmarks

Moving on to birthmarks, some of these skin conditions should go away on their own. Others may need laser treatment in future if your child feels self-conscious.

Strawberry Hemangioma

These are clusters of extra blood vessels on your baby’s skin, and may show up at birth or form a few weeks or months after birth. They may look like rubbery, bumpy, red “strawberry” patches, or deep bruises. Most will go away on their own without any problems, however others may need early treatment, especially if they interfere with your baby’s sight, hearing, breathing or eating. In some cases, it may lead to an open sore. Treatments include propranolol, oral steroids, topical medications, steroid injections, surgery or laser treatment.

Stork Bites

Similar to the hemangiomas, the “stork bite” birthmarks are flat, pink or red, and found on the eyelids, forehead, top of your baby’s head, the back of his/her neck, under his/her nose or on the lower back. Like the strawberry hemangioma, it should go away on its own by the time your baby is a toddler.

Port Wine Stain (Nevus Flammeus)

While also flat, pink or red, these are usually larger than the “stork bite” birthmarks and may affect more areas of the body and face. These are made up of extra capillaries and do not go away. Do contact your paediatrician if the birthmark is on the eyelid and forehead - it may be related to a rare Sturge-Weber syndrome. It may be possible to lighten the birthmark via laser treatment but will not permanently erase the birthmark.

Cafe-au-lait Spots

Light brown, these spots can darken with sun exposure. They often have irregular edges and vary in colour and size. If your baby has six or more spots with freckles under the arm or around the groin, this could suggest a genetic problem called neurofibromastosis type 1, so it’s best to get it checked. Otherwise, these spots are usually harmless, and do not require treatment. If your child feels self-conscious about these when he/she is older, he/she can try to use makeup to conceal it or consider going for laser treatment.

Mongolian Spots

This appears as a grey, greenish, blue or black mark, and usually on the back and buttock area. They do not cause pain and are not caused by any injuries. If you spot this on your baby, do get it checked out as it can be associated with rare metabolic diseases like Hurler's disease or Hunter’s syndrome. Most Mongolian spots can disappear completely by the time a child reaches age five, but sometimes it persists for life. Treatment options when your child becomes an adult include laser removal or a skin bleaching cream.

 

 

Preventable Skin Conditions

Other common skin conditions include sunburn and diaper rash - the good news is these are usually preventable.

Sunburn

Limit your baby’s exposure to the sun, especially during 10am to 4pm, as it might cause sunburn. If the burn is particularly bad, it may begin to blister and the redness will fade in two or three days, while the skin starts to peel. Researchers have also estimated that 90 per cent of skin cancers are due to overexposure to the sun. A single bad burn in infancy or childhood might double the risk of getting melanoma.

 

Hence, use waterproof sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, with broad spectrum protection and for sensitive skin. You may want to do a patch test two days before using the product. For little ones under six months, apply sunscreen on small areas like their faces, backs of the hands and tops of the feet. Keep them in the shade as much as possible. As for older babies, reapply sunscreen often and liberally once they get wet. Use the sunshade on your stroller, or hide under a big umbrella at the pool.

Diaper Rash

If you see red, tender-looking skin in the diaper region, or your baby seems more uncomfortable especially during diaper changes, he/she might have a diaper rash. This is usually related to wet or irregularly changed diapers, skin sensitivity and chafing. Other causes may include irritation from your baby’s stool and urine, chafing or rubbing, or as a reaction to a new product. Additionally, babies might have a bacterial or yeast infection. If you’ve introduced new foods, your baby’s stool contents will change and likely develop diaper rash. For breastfed babies, they can develop diaper rash in response to something their mothers have eaten.

 

To reduce the likelihood of getting diaper rash, change diapers often and rinse your baby’s bottom with warm water or use washcloths, cotton balls and unscented baby wipes. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel or let air dry, and don’t tighten the diapers too much. Also, wash your hands well after changing diapers. You can also use diaper rash cream to help prevent this.

Relevant Reads: Deciphering Your Newborn’s Needs, Developmental Milestones - Newborn to 1 Year,

Credits: Laura Ohlman, DICSON, bristekjegor,Pixabay

Help your little one care for her delicate skin by learning about these common skin conditions and how to treat them. Some of the common skin conditions that your baby might have include dry skin, as well as birthmarks and diaper rash. Learn how to prevent some of these conditions, where possible, and also to treat them.

 

Dry Skin

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is fairly common among babies from one to three months of age. Typically, you may notice rough, scaly patches and flaky skin on the scalp, usually white or yellow and dry or greasy. This may appear on the scalp, face, upper chest, and back. Unlike eczema, it’s not itchy or irritating, so your little one will not feel any discomfort. Mild cradle cap should resolve itself within a few days with treatment.

 

Look out for your baby’s skin turning red, orange or inflamed, or if he/she develops a fever. Severe cradle cap that resists treatment may be associated with immune system problems. Otherwise, you can use a gentle baby shampoo with no fragrance on your baby’s scalp daily, and apply a couple drops of baby or mineral oil and massage into the scales. Alternatives include coconut and sunflower oil.

Peeling After Birth

After birth, your baby’s outer layer may shed, most noticeably on the hands, soles of the feet and the ankles. The amount varies according to when your baby was born, and how much vernix your baby had on his/her skin at birth. This will go away on its own without needing special care.

Eczema

One of the most common skin conditions is eczema or atopic dermatitis, which may cause dry, red and itchy patches. You may need to avoid irritants like some shampoo and detergents, dairy and soy products and wheat - try these products instead. Additionally, try special moisturising creams for eczema.

Ichthyosis

If you notice dry or itchy skin, with polygon-shaped scales that are brown, grey or white, or a flaky scalp and thickened skin, your baby may have ichthyosis. This can begin at birth or in the first few years, and may disappear during childhood. For some, it may return in adulthood.

Have your paediatrician look at this. He/she will likely ask about your family history, when it first began and if your little one has any other skin conditions. Aside from recording where the patches of dry skin appear, he/she may also perform a blood test or skin biopsy.

 

This can be treated with keratolytics, or retinoids. Use moisturisers to improve the skin’s dryness, and avoid soap. Other options include shampoos with salicylic acid, and brushing the hair to remove the scales. A humidifier, short bath times up to 10 minutes with lukewarm water and fragrance-free and soap-free cleansers, and keeping your baby hydrated also can help this condition. Protect your newborn’s face from the wind and cold air, and avoid harsh chemicals and use a detergent for sensitive skin.

 

Bath time: Try brands like Gaia, Twinkle Baby and Mustela.

 

 

Red Bumps or Growths

Heat Rash

In babies, heat rash presents as clusters of small, often moist red bumps resembling pimples or blisters. These usually appear on the face, the folds of the neck, arms, legs, diaper area and upper chest. Your baby may be cranky and restless due to the itching and tingly “prickly” pain, and may have difficulty sleeping.

 

Use a mild soap and lukewarm water during bath time and then pat dry. Keep your baby cool and dry with a fan, and avoid powders, oils and lotions. Where possible, you can let your baby wander around the house without clothes. Try not to baby-wear your little one in a carrier or sling for too long, and dress him/her in loose-fitting, breathable clothes. In hot weather, seek refuge in air-conditioned spots. Do call your paediatrician if your baby’s rash lasts for three or more days, and look out for pustules and swelling- this might indicate a yeast or bacterial infection.

Hives

In infants, you may notice varying sizes of bumps or patches on the skin - usually red or pink with white centres. Other symptoms include the skin swelling, itching, stinging, burning, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen. They might appear on the face, hands, feet and genitals, as well as other parts of the body. Some causes include food and other allergens, viral or bacterial infections, environmental factors and medications. Do contact your paediatrician, as he/she can best advise you on giving your baby oral antihistamines, or steroids.

 

Should the symptoms include breathing problems, closing of the throat and wheezing, your infant may need emergency medical care. Examples of these include higher-level prescription medication or hospitalisation. Otherwise, you should be able to treat this with the oral medications. Find out what triggered the rash and keep your infant away from the allergens. Additionally, use a cool compress to relieve your little one’s discomfort - the hives should go away without treatments.

Impetigo

Signs and symptoms of impetigo usually include red sores that rupture, ooze for a few days and then form a yellowish-brown crust, typically around the nose and mouth. However, this can also spread to other areas of the body. Other types of impetigo include bullous impetigo, with large blisters on your baby’s trunk, or ecthyma, painful fluid or pus-filled sores that become deep ulcers. Definitely see your child’s paediatrician if you suspect your little one has impetigo.

 

Most common in children from two to five, it spreads easily in schools and childcare settings, so keep your child at home until the paediatrician confirms he/she is not contagious. The bacteria enters the body via small skin injuries, insect bites or rashes. Treat this with an antibiotic ointment or cream - you may need to soak the affected area in warm water or use wet compresses before applying the ointment or cream.

 

In terms of prevention, wash cuts, scrapes, insect bites or other wounds correctly. Reduce the spread by washing the affected areas with mild soap and running water, then cover with gauze. Don’t share your baby’s clothes, linens and towels with anyone and wash them daily. Wear gloves when applying the ointment and wash your hands well afterwards. Additionally, keep your baby’s nails short so he/she doesn’t scratch.

Infant Acne

Triggering infant acne are maternal hormones still circulating in your baby’s bloodstream from pregnancy. After stimulating your little one’s oil-producing glands, your baby may develop red pimples on the chin, eyelids, cheeks, forehead, neck, upper chest and back.

 

Instead of squeezing or picking the acne, cleanse the area with warm water twice to thrice a day, and gently pat skin dry. Breast milk may also help since it has antimicrobial properties. Otherwise, ask your paediatrician for a prescription or over-the-counter medication for your baby. Next, monitor and wait for them to disappear in a few months.

 

 

Birthmarks

Moving on to birthmarks, some of these skin conditions should go away on their own. Others may need laser treatment in future if your child feels self-conscious.

Strawberry Hemangioma

These are clusters of extra blood vessels on your baby’s skin, and may show up at birth or form a few weeks or months after birth. They may look like rubbery, bumpy, red “strawberry” patches, or deep bruises. Most will go away on their own without any problems, however others may need early treatment, especially if they interfere with your baby’s sight, hearing, breathing or eating. In some cases, it may lead to an open sore. Treatments include propranolol, oral steroids, topical medications, steroid injections, surgery or laser treatment.

Stork Bites

Similar to the hemangiomas, the “stork bite” birthmarks are flat, pink or red, and found on the eyelids, forehead, top of your baby’s head, the back of his/her neck, under his/her nose or on the lower back. Like the strawberry hemangioma, it should go away on its own by the time your baby is a toddler.

Port Wine Stain (Nevus Flammeus)

While also flat, pink or red, these are usually larger than the “stork bite” birthmarks and may affect more areas of the body and face. These are made up of extra capillaries and do not go away. Do contact your paediatrician if the birthmark is on the eyelid and forehead - it may be related to a rare Sturge-Weber syndrome. It may be possible to lighten the birthmark via laser treatment but will not permanently erase the birthmark.

Cafe-au-lait Spots

Light brown, these spots can darken with sun exposure. They often have irregular edges and vary in colour and size. If your baby has six or more spots with freckles under the arm or around the groin, this could suggest a genetic problem called neurofibromastosis type 1, so it’s best to get it checked. Otherwise, these spots are usually harmless, and do not require treatment. If your child feels self-conscious about these when he/she is older, he/she can try to use makeup to conceal it or consider going for laser treatment.

Mongolian Spots

This appears as a grey, greenish, blue or black mark, and usually on the back and buttock area. They do not cause pain and are not caused by any injuries. If you spot this on your baby, do get it checked out as it can be associated with rare metabolic diseases like Hurler's disease or Hunter’s syndrome. Most Mongolian spots can disappear completely by the time a child reaches age five, but sometimes it persists for life. Treatment options when your child becomes an adult include laser removal or a skin bleaching cream.

 

 

Preventable Skin Conditions

Other common skin conditions include sunburn and diaper rash - the good news is these are usually preventable.

Sunburn

Limit your baby’s exposure to the sun, especially during 10am to 4pm, as it might cause sunburn. If the burn is particularly bad, it may begin to blister and the redness will fade in two or three days, while the skin starts to peel. Researchers have also estimated that 90 per cent of skin cancers are due to overexposure to the sun. A single bad burn in infancy or childhood might double the risk of getting melanoma.

 

Hence, use waterproof sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, with broad spectrum protection and for sensitive skin. You may want to do a patch test two days before using the product. For little ones under six months, apply sunscreen on small areas like their faces, backs of the hands and tops of the feet. Keep them in the shade as much as possible. As for older babies, reapply sunscreen often and liberally once they get wet. Use the sunshade on your stroller, or hide under a big umbrella at the pool.

Diaper Rash

If you see red, tender-looking skin in the diaper region, or your baby seems more uncomfortable especially during diaper changes, he/she might have a diaper rash. This is usually related to wet or irregularly changed diapers, skin sensitivity and chafing. Other causes may include irritation from your baby’s stool and urine, chafing or rubbing, or as a reaction to a new product. Additionally, babies might have a bacterial or yeast infection. If you’ve introduced new foods, your baby’s stool contents will change and likely develop diaper rash. For breastfed babies, they can develop diaper rash in response to something their mothers have eaten.

 

To reduce the likelihood of getting diaper rash, change diapers often and rinse your baby’s bottom with warm water or use washcloths, cotton balls and unscented baby wipes. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel or let air dry, and don’t tighten the diapers too much. Also, wash your hands well after changing diapers. You can also use diaper rash cream to help prevent this.

Credits: Deciphering Your Newborn’s Needs, Developmental Milestones - Newborn to 1 Year, Laura Ohlman, DICSON, bristekjegor,Pixabay

 

Aside from learning your baby’s non-verbal cues, teaching him/her basic sign language can help you understand his/her needs better. This is particularly useful when your baby reaches about nine months to two years old. During this time, his/her vocabulary may be growing but still limited, thus sign language may aid you in understanding what he/she wants.

 

The Potential Benefits

Most importantly, you get to understand your baby’s thoughts and needs a little better, so that you can respond to what he/she needs quickly. Hence, your baby will have lesser tantrums, since you’d understand what he/she needs. You can start as early as four to six months old, but your baby will likely initiate signing back to you only as soon as six to 10 months on-wards.

 

Research conducted with small studies was inconclusive to prove that babies gain any significant cognitive or language advantage over a non-signing baby. However, it may give a developing infant a way to communicate before he/she learns vocal communication. Thus, when your child is between 8 months and two years, this may help to ease frustration for both you and your child. At the very least, because of the time spent trying to teach your child baby sign language, you also pick up on your child’s nonverbal cues and gestures to understand his/her needs.

 

 

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

Start with signs that express his/her needs. Obvious choices include being hungry, thirsty and sleepy. Although you may have chosen a particular sign to represent a need, your baby may invent his/her own sign, so do follow that when possible. Next, speak and sign at the same time to help your baby develop his/her language skills, so your baby co-relates the sign and the word you just said. Of course, repetition is key, so make sure you sign consistently and frequently.

 

Increase the signs’ visibility by signing close to your face. As your baby loves to look at your face and eyes, doing so helps your baby notice them better. Similarly, if you’re signing for an object, ensure you make the sign close to, or on top of the object. When your baby does sign to you, do “reward” him/her by taking immediate action, such as giving your child the milk he/she requested for promptly.

 

Another way to help your little one learn is to hold your baby on your lap, back to your stomach, and use his/her hands to make the signs. Do these while doing various activities, such as bathing, diapering, feeding, or reading to your little one to give them proper context.

 

When teaching your little one, research suggests that iconic signs (signs that represent the word, like “milk”) are more helpful for your babies. However, some non-iconic signs that also include “mummy” and “daddy” may also be fun for your child to learn. The most effective approach to communicating with your child, is to pay attention to him/her and respond to their attempts and gesturing and verbalising. Use speech and transparent gestures like pantomime and pointing to “talk” with your little one.

 

 

Resources for Baby Sign Language

Resources for learning baby sign language in Singapore include Baby Signs Singapore, which is currently offering Zoom classes ($200). Otherwise, there are books or online resources that teach baby sign language. Do note the signs may differ, so choose a language that you’re comfortable with and can remember easily. Sign language for your baby doesn’t have to be just a mother-child bonding activity - rope in your spouse, parents, in-laws or other caretakers so that they’re also familiar with such signs.

 

Next, take it easy and start with just a few signs, and don’t overwhelm your baby. Learning baby sign language is supposed to reduce frustration instead of adding to it. Of course, when your baby does respond and imitate your signing, it may not be perfect, so acknowledge it and respond so your baby is interested and motivated to keep signing.

 

 

12 Basic Signs

All done: Start with your upturned palms close together, then turn them over and move outwards

Daddy: Open your palm, with your fingers facing upward. Next, tap your forehead with your thumb.

Drink: Cup your hand and place it to your mouth

Eat: Tap your fingertips to your mouth with your palm down and your thumb touching your fingers.

Food: With closed fingertips, bring your hand to your mouth.

Hungry: Rub your belly

Milk: Open and close your fist as if you were milking a cow

More: Tap your fingertips together

Mummy: Open your palm, with your fingers facing upward and tap your thumb to your chin.

Potty: Put your hand in a fist and shake it from side to side.

Sleep: Extend your fingers and spread apart. Move your hand from over your face down to below your chin, with your fingers touching your thumb. Additionally, to act this out, you can relax your face and let your eyes get droopy.

Water: Put three fingers up and tap your index finger on your chin.

 

Credits: Omar Lopez, Nathan Dumlao, Helena Lopes, Baby Sign Language, Speech and Language Kids, Speech and Language Kids, Newborn Care - Deciphering Your Baby’s Needs, Developmental MIlestones - Newborn to 1 Year