Sign language for baby, my first thought was "Really?". I never thought it would be possible to use sign language with a baby. How wrong was I!
I attended a class with my eldest daughter, when she was about 6 months old. I started this as she always seemed to use her hands a lot. She definitely explored the world around her with her fingers, more so than her peers seemed to.
I saw a baby signing course advertised in a our local center, and decided I would give it a go with Beth. Well we didn't look back really! When we joined she was the youngest in the room, as the children aged between 6 and 11 months old. There were bright cushions, and musical instruments for us to play with.
The key to class was to teach the parent and child how to interact with each other using baby sign language.
At the classes we learnt lots of songs and rhymes to help us remember the signs and how to use them. The course we signed up for was 6 weeks in length, just one class a week.
I was the ultimate skeptic. I was the oldest grand-daughter of many babies, and I had never seen a baby pick up on these sort of signs. So not quite believing it, I took the leaflets and guides and we headed home.
I religiously worked with Elizabeth over the next 7 days, using our songs and signs along the way. At the class the next week, to my amazement, she started to sign back to the teacher!
Elizabeth followed the teachers lead, and copied the actions that she took. I was overwhelmed with pride, especially as she was one of the youngest in the room!
Blown away by this, I have always started baby signing with my other two children as soon as possible. Victoria, my youngest, is pictured here. She is under 6 months old and her left hand is starting the sign for 'milk'.
It is a truly fantastic feeling to be able to communicate with your children, when they are so young.
As soon as I took Elizabeth away from that second class, we headed to our local book store. The teacher had recommended some books that also show you the signs to use.
Inspired by the learning journey to date, I bought a few! Here are ones that are now available...
Beth was never much into books but she did like the board books we found.
Being a board book, she can also look through the pictures too. They were easy to learn from, which made them enjoyable.
If you don't have a class to get you started near you, then try some of these first signs books.
They are great and easy to follow.
One thing that I did find with teaching baby sign language to my children, was that they rarely cried. It meant when they did cry it was for a specific reason, usually that they had a hurt.
That is no bad thing, especially when the baby can tell you that they want milk, a clean diaper, they don't feel well, a drink or a biscuit; plus many more.
To help you get started, or to help those that are looking after your little one, this video should help you to understand how sign language for baby works...
Here is a list of the basic signs that you can get your little one to tell you...
I've also found that this has helped their language development as they get older. What is lovely, is even though Beth is now 9 (as of writing this), I can sign to her across the sports field that she is doing well, and that I love her.
Not many other people know what we are saying - that makes it even more special for us (and she isn't embarrassed by it!!)