My daughter has recently turned a year old (What?! How?!) and is quickly picking up on everything. She amazes me daily with new-found talents. Assembling simple puzzles, paging through books, going from walking to running, getting on and off chairs, and…signing!
Discovering Baby Sign Language
As a soon-to-be first time mom, I read often. You know, the millions of books on the “right” way to raise a child. One of the things I came across was baby sign language. This intrigued me enough to look at a few graphics of some of the more popular signs to teach babies. However, it seemed overwhelming and I quickly forgot in the early days of motherhood.
Fast-forward to an 8-month old pulling at my shirt when she was hungry, and an idea popped into my head, “I wonder if she could learn the sign for milk.” I started (very intermittently) signing “milk” when she would nurse or get a bottle. The next thing I know, she signed “milk” to her grandma who was over visiting. We thought it was a fluke the first time, but got her some milk anyway, and you know what? She was so excited, she kept signing while drinking!
Learning Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language is SO much simpler than I had been lead to believe. You don’t need to take special classes, read any books, or even know the “correct” sign for anything! As long as you are consistent in the signs you choose, they will learn to associate them together—that’s what makes it easy, there is no right or wrong way!
The Benefits We’ve Found So Far
One of the biggest benefits of baby sign language is that it gives a pre-speaking baby another way to communicate their needs and wants. My daughter gets the biggest smile every time you respond to her signing. So, we love to continue to foster her desire to communicate in this way. It also helps her learn words, as we always speak while we sign. Along with signing, she has also learned to say mama, dada, and ball…perhaps because we repeat those words often, along with their sign!
We’ve also noted that as she learns the signs, she focuses more on her hands and how they move, possibly helping with fine motor skills. She loves to watch her fingers move as she tries to mimic what we are doing. So, now we’re working on signing a few more words like mom, dad, eat, more, all done, and book. So far, the sign for milk is the only consistent sign she does, but she gets so excited when she asks and receives. I’m sure she’ll catch on quickly again!
It is so amazing to watch children learn to communicate: from those first smiles to first words. Signing is a simple, fuss-free way to teach them just one more way to share with us what they are thinking.
Have you ever thought about trying out baby sign language?
This is the chart I used. Also, be sure to check with our local classes: Birth, Baby, and Beyond and Baby Time!
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