{Baby Signs}

Sweet Pea signing 'more' (going down the slide, please, Daaddy!)

Baby signing has been around for a while, but it is only fairly recently that it has started to gain popularity with parents. I have done it with both my girls, and I LOVE IT!

Sweet Pea signing 'want'  (that flower)

For information about baby signing (the what, why, how), read here. In a nutshell, baby signs are a form of simplified sign language that parents and their (hearing) babies use to communicate before the baby is able to speak (and after starting to speak, since developing language skills takes several years). Research shows that using baby signs reduces babies' frustration and crying, helps to develop both receptive and productive language skills, and results in long-term increases in your baby's IQ (really!). 

Princess Pea signing 'eat'

I recommend the book 'Baby Signs: How To Talk With Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk' by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn, the original researchers of baby signing. There are lots of baby signing classes out there, but I don't really think they're necessary. When I started, I lived in an area where there were no classes, so I bought that book and taught myself. It was easy. And you don't even need to follow a particular set of signs, you can just as well make up your own versions that make sense to you and your baby. But if you want to take a class to get started, go for it! There is also quite a useful online video dictionary here that I refer to often.

Princess Pea signing 'milk'

I started signing a couple of basic signs (e.g., 'milk', 'all done', 'more') with Princess Pea when she was just a few months old - mostly so that I could practice and learn them myself. They say to start around 6 months usually. She started signing back, inconsistently, at around 7 months, and consistently at around 8 or 9. She began speaking understandable words at around 9 months. By 11 months she had a signing vocabulary of 26 words, and a spoken vocabulary of 14 words plus another 4 animal sounds that she used as words to name the animals.

Princess Pea signing 'all done'

With Sweet Pea, I was a bit slower off the bat. I started, rather inconsistenly myself, at around 6 months with her, and not really consistently until around 8 months. But still, she began to use a sign or two now and then at 8 months, gradually increasing her signing vocabulary and recently, at 11 months, she had a sudden surge and has started signing all over the place! Now that she has just turned 1, she has a signing vocabulary of 30 words, and a spoken vocabulary of 8 words, plus a few animal sounds.

Princess Pea signing 'bird'

It's so cute to see them signing and getting excited to tell us things! And I love that I can have genuine two-way 'conversations' with my babies! Sweet Pea loves to tell me what she notices in her environment, things that I probably wouldn't notice otherwise, from the bird chirping through the window, to Princess Pea's half-eaten apple on the shelf by the door. I truly believe that it reduces frustration by giving babies a way to communicate their needs more accurately than crying, and I really do see less crying as a result. Plus, it opens the door to further vocabulary learning because when she 'tells' me about the bird she hears, I then respond by taking her to the window to find it, and we move into a 'conversation' about the garden, the trees, the wind, the playground, as well as the bird.

Sweet Pea signing 'goodnight'

Do you do baby signing? Have you ever? What are your thoughts on it?