Baby Sign Language is an incredibly cool way to teach your baby how to communicate. Using simple signs, derived from American Sign Language (ASL), babies and toddlers can learn how to tell you what they want and feel way before verbal skills are possible. Learning to sign with your baby is really easy – you just need a few simple signs to start with, and you need to practice, practice, practice.
I started to sign with my baby when she was about six months old. I’d heard about it from a friend and although I was skeptical I thought I’d give it a try. My little girl, Jamie, was such a handful – I didn’t know what to do with her. I was attracted to Baby Signing because I’d heard it helped with bonding, giving mom and baby something special to do together.
We went to a class at first, but I didn’t enjoy it because Jamie would just cry through the whole thing. I learned enough to be able to practice at home. We had the sign for Mommy and the sign for Milk. We also learned the signs for Dog, Cold and Sleepy. I signed every day with Jamie – when I was feeding her, when we did chores, out shopping. I got a few funny looks from people! Jamie seemed to enjoy it – mommy being very silly – but I didn’t really think she was learning anything.
Her favorite sign seemed to be milk. How you do this sign is: Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat. The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – just squeezing the udder. Jamie would get really excited when she saw this sign so I knew she got it – she understood the sign for milk. One day, when we’d been signing for about two months, I noticed she was making little fists and bouncing up and down. She was making the sign for milk! I was amazed. It really worked. Jamie was telling me she was hungry.
Signing also helped with our bonding. It gave me something to do with her when I was struggling to find a way to cope. Once she began to communicate back to me I was so proud – this made me learn new signs and practice with her even more. She rewarded me by making the sign for Mommy by the time she was a year old, and then there was no stopping her.
Another trick I learned was using flash cards. Flash cards are traditionally used to teach pre-school children new words, letters and numbers, and are just as effective a tool for helping babies master new signs. Obviously it is best to have the object you are signing right there in front of you and baby – if you are signing Mommy, for example, use the real mommy not a flash card. But flash cards are helpful when the object is not present. If you are learning the sign for Dog, you need to repeat the sign often for baby to learn it. This could be difficult if you don’t own a dog! Using a flash card for Dog is a great way to overcome this.
Now Jamie is two and doesn’t have as many tantrums as my neighbor’s toddler. I’m sure this is because she has lots of ways of communicating with me and doesn’t get frustrated. Baby Signing definitely worked for us.
To get more info on Baby Sign Language check out this amazing site: http://www.babysignlanguage.com/
Thanks Misty for this post!! What a great set of resources for moms that are interested in Baby Sign Language!