Many parents teach their babies a few simple words in sign language, so the baby has a way of communicating what they need or want, even before they can speak. Joy Allen's Baby Signs, with its simple pastel pictures and step-by-step (wordless) instructions for 13 words, makes an ideal choice.
Just the other day, I was walking out of Bank Street College of Education with a colleague who had just picked up her 8-month-old baby from the Family Center. She gave her baby a piece of a banana. When little Lily finished her piece of banana, she made the sign for "more." What a powerful thing, at 8 months old, to be able to "say" what she needs.
A few simple signs as a tool to indicate what they want allows babies to express themselves from the get-go. They don't have to break into tears or wails of frustration. They may still, but they have other options. Nothing inspires confidence more than being understood, no matter how old we get.