I guess you could consider me a “New Age Mom” as I’m definitely venturing off the traditional parenting path. The latest stop on that path: Baby Signing.
What is Baby Signing? Baby signing is American Sign Language that is introduced to both deaf and hearing babies. It can be introduced as early as newborn age, although some start at around 4 months. I jumped on the baby signing bandwagon a little late, so Eda and I started about one month ago at 6 months.
How does it work? I picked a few signs to start with and I repeatedly use them with Eda. I say the word and I do the sign. The more I do this, the greater the chance she will pick it up. Consistency is key here, you have to make an effort to do the sign and say that word each chance you get. For the past month we have been working on the signs for: food, milk, water, more, dirty (diaper), mama, bath, sleep, all done, walk, play and book.If possible, you can also try to show your baby how to do the sign with his/her hands. Unfortunately Eda doesn’t sit still long enough for me to grab her hands and move them!
Why sign? What are the advantages? Perhaps the biggest advantage of baby signing is that it is communicating with your baby. Often times babies get frustrated and throw tantrums because we can’t understand what they want. They might be trying to say something but we cannot make out the words. With baby sign language the words are unnecessary. If the baby can make the sign he or she has been seeing for months, then he or she can communicate their needs without frustration or tantrum. Sounds genius, doesn’t it? The book I purchased, The Baby Signing Bible by Laura Berg, also mentions other advantages like: mutual happiness and a strong bond, higher IQ/brain development/language skills, higher self-esteem and confidence, facilitate language development, and it’s fun!
How long before babies start signing? This is a hard question to answer because of course each baby is different. From the forums I have read some say it takes a few months. (I’ll let you know once it happens with Eda.) The author of The Baby Signing Bible says that just as it takes a long time for babies to talk it can take a long time for them to sign as well. However once babies sign their first word they sign their second word must faster and it all becomes much easier.
How’s the signing going with Eda? As I mentioned, I’ve only been signing with Eda for about a month now. The signs I use the most (milk, more, all done) I swear she understands. She either reacts by grunting or cooing like a morning dove (milk, more) or giggles and smiles from ear to ear (all done). All in all, signing has been a lot of fun for us. She loves looking at my hands and always smiles when I’m signing. I’m guessing it will take some time before she signs her first sign because I’m the only one doing it with her. However, just as the book says, I’m not going to give up because I really look forward to this cool form of communication that will be just between Mommy and Eda!