I am a natural-birthing, doula-loving, midwife-adoring, breastfeeding, complete lactivist, baby-signing, baby-wearing, baby food making crunchy mom. Have I scared you yet? Now I’d like to share one of my passions with you.
I can’t stress enough to everyone I know how important it is (and rewarding!) to sign with your baby. First, you get a glimpse into what your child is thinking – what’s going on in that little head far before they can actually tell you with words. Well before the mouth/tongue can form the sounds, the hands can easily do them. I’ve heard of babies starting to communicate at 7 months. Yes, I said 7 months. Secondly, it really cuts down on some major frustration for you and your baby as they are able to convey exactly what they are wanting, needing, or just want to talk about.
Here’s one of my personal ‘for examples’
One morning, my daughter, Willow, was playing with her dolls on the floor while I put some clothes away. I needed to change her diaper so I picked her up and put her on the changing table. She started fussing. Now, if we didn’t understand signs, I would have assumed she was fussing because she just didn’t want her diaper changed. But that wasn’t the case – she started signing ‘baby’. I said “Yes sweetie, you are the baby.” She kept signing baby and fussing. She started getting more adamant “baby, baby”. Then she added the sign for “more” to baby. Isn’t that amazing? She wanted to play with her dolls some more. So I reinforced what she was asking for, then reached down and picked up the dolly and gave it to her. She then smiled and played with the dolly while I finished with her diaper. A truly simple thing when you think about it yet she was able to tell me exactly what she wanted, and I could happily comply. I’ll admit – I teared up. It made me so happy to be able to understand my baby.
Signing is so wonderful, powerful, and rewarding. It’s obvious how much my friends and family enjoy being able to ‘talk’ with my children as well – it’s easy to learn signing!
Another example: When we went to the pet store for the first time, Willow was so stinking excited I thought she would burst! We saw and did the signs for puppies, rabbits, fish, birds and turtles. (Don’t know the sign for mouse LOL) All that night once we got home she was signing ‘dog’. So I knew, she wanted to talk about our trip to the pet store. So we did – I talked about seeing all the puppies then the birds etc and she was so obviously excited my heart just swelled. I had a little window into her mind – exactly what she was thinking – and was able to carry on a conversation with her at 13 months old. She went to bed still talking about puppies, woke the next morning talking about puppies and the next time I put her in the car I thought she’d burst again – she got all excited and started signing ‘dog’ again. So for the next week, every time I put her in the car she thought we were going to see puppies.
So please, those of you with small ones, sign with your babies. Tell you friends and families about it and spread the word. At this age, there’s not much that is more rewarding.
Here are links to some commonly used signs – just click the phrase to see the video demonstration. Each is about 3 seconds long. I’m going to put the ones I started off with in red. Below that, you’ll find some other great resources for signing with your baby. You can start at birth and start seeing signs back from your baby at 7 months.
Dog For dog, we sign by panting like a dog does – like saying Haahaa.
ASL Pro – another great site for learning signs. They have a ‘baby’ section as well.
My Baby Can Talk – where the previous little snippets came from.
Baby Wordsworth from Baby Einsteins – love this video.
Baby Einstein My First Signs – another good one.
Sign with your Baby – yet another good one. I have the quick reference guide and VHS tape. My son, Trystan, really enjoyed going through it (even though he’s 3!) and picked up some new signs to use with his sister.