Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Signs

I worked at a daycare center for many years while I was in college.  While I was there, the center implemented a curriculum for the baby room and toddlers that focused on baby signs.  I was very skeptical at first.  I didn't really understand why you wouldn't just focus on teaching the child to say actual words.  Wouldn't using baby signs discourage language development?

Benefits to Signing
What I actually found was that the children that knew the most signs (typically the ones whose parents also used signs at home) were also the children that started speaking words first and knew the most words.  This finding of mine was backed up by a research study done by the National Institute for Health (NIH.)  It also found that baby signs use has other benefits.  Baby Signs Research has a summary of these findings and benefits.

It can reduce aggressive behavior in babies/toddlers by giving them a way to communicate other than hitting and biting.  It can help boost a baby's self-esteem.  It can help caregivers know better what a child wants/needs. It allows a child a way to communicate.  An example with Destructo was one of his first signs being puppy.  He would point out puppies anywhere we were and sometimes even spotted them before I did.  I also like baby signs to start teaching please and thank you before the child can say the words.
This is the baby signs kit I bought when I was pregnant with Destructo. Okay who am I kidding, I found it at a local bookstore that was had it on super clearance because they had come out with a new edition. So I bought it well before I was pregnant with Kai knowing I would use it one day. :)  This kit comes with a parent DVD that shows you how to teach the signs, a magnetic quick signs thing to hang on the fridge, a children's DVD, and four little board books that are Kai's favorite books.  He even sleeps with them in the crib. 

Another kit that I haven't personally used, but have heard good things about is Signing times videos.

How To Start Signing
I signed from birth with Kai.  He didn't pay much attention though until around five months when he started knowing what the milk sign meant.  All done was the second sign he recognized.  He didn't start signing back until around 8-9 months.  Around 11 months, he really started picking up on signs and recognizing and also signing them back.  Now at 14 months, he says around 20 words and signs about the same number of signs.

He is a very stubborn boy and can sign 2-3 signs in a row.  For example, after he had weaned during the day he decided one day he really wanted milk.  I was super busy and not really paying attention to his whining.  He finally walked up to me and signed drink milk please.  That sure got my attention.  I knew he could do all of those signs, but he nearly never signs milk anymore.  He prefers to try to pull my shirt off, stick his head down my shirt, or scream until I figure it out.  But he can sure sign nice when he needs to.

I try to concentrate on one or two signs until he learns them and then move on to others when he was first starting.  Now if we are reading a book or out and about and the opportunity presents itself,  I will sign any of the signs I know and point to the object.  My best advice is to just enjoy teaching the signs and enjoy your babies attempts at them.  Kai's airplane sign is hilarious.  I am going to try to get his hot sign on video and post it here soon.

 I am very glad we sign with Destructo since he has a temper to start with.  It has helped reduce his frustration when he is trying to tell me something and can't.  I can say please use your words and he will try to formulate either words or signs to express himself.  I encourage you guys to check it out if you have young kiddos as it is a lot of fun and Kai seems to really enjoy learning the signs.

Signing please at the beer cooler.  I don't think so young man.

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  1. Hopping back- I recall (what now feels like many years ago) teaching my babies simple signs, but never going at it full force, fortunately some of the other ladies at Ladies Holiday have worked with their little ones and have also had a great experience! Pretty amazing stuff!

    1. It amazes me just how smart babies truly are. I never would have imagined that they pick up on so many things.

  2. We did the signing with our son--after he got the hang of it, it was awesome! Glad you found my blog and vice versa! Will be following along :)

    1. Thanks for following. Have a great holiday!

  3. I am one of the skeptical ones who did not see the need to teach my children sign language. "We can all talk and understand each other ... so why bother right?" Well we still do not use sign in our family, but I did see a mother and son using sign the other day and it was amazing to see how easily they communicated. This is really a nice form for them to interact quicker.
    I am your newest follower and hope you follow back.

    1. That is how I was at the daycare. With my own son, I will admit I know inately most of what he needs with or without signs. I was more interested in teaching him signs so others could understand what he needs since he is kept by 3-4 different family members during the day when I work.

      It has also helped with his tantrums. Around nine months, he started throwing tantrums that were earth shattering half hour tantrums typically because he was frustrated that either he couldn't get to something since he didn't start walking until 10.5 months or because he couldn't tell us what he wanted. This is when I was glad for the signing because I would tell him please use your signs and this helped to bring him out of the tantrum because at least he felt like I was trying to help him make himself heard.

      I am going to check out your blog now. Thanks for following.


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