Haven’t we all been frustrated by the inability to understand what our baby wants before they learn to speak? The endless “Is this what you want? No? This? This? This???”. And we are not the only ones frustrated! Our children look at us as if we must be silly to not understand their vague gestures and grunting!
I want to share my experience with baby sign language with you all, and the impact it has had on our family. We found out about baby sign language when our first son was nearly 2 and already speaking quite well. So, when our second son was born we were keen to try it out. From when he was about 7 months old we started to sign the words ‘food’ when he was fed, ‘milk’ when he was offered the breast, ‘drink’ when he was offered a cup, and ‘thank you’ when he was given something to hold. Slowly we introduced new signs such as ‘change’ (for a new nappy/diaper), ‘play’, ‘finished’, ‘sleep’ and ‘want’.
Around the time of his first birthday he started to sign back to us. His first sign was ‘food’ and we were very excited! Finally we could communicate with him without him breaking down in tears! (and he wasn’t the only one crying) He very quickly started to sign other words to us.
Now, at 16 months he has started to speak. He has learned to say ‘Dada’, ‘Mama’ (only when he’s upset), ‘Sasha’ (the dog’s name), and ‘fish’. He continues to sign to us, and his vocabulary is rapidly growing. Whenever I speak to someone about baby sign language I ask my son to tell them about ‘the helicopter’. He makes the sign straight away.
Baby sign language has made such a difference to our family. It is now easy to discover what our son needs. His brother thinks its heaps of fun, and loves learning new signs too!
If you have never heard of baby sign language, check out http://www.australianbabyhands.com for more information. This is based on Australian sign language for the deaf, and I am sure there would be a local equivalent wherever you are.
I’m also interested to hear of anyone else’s experience with baby sign language, and how it has affected your lives! Please share!