I must admit that before I had children I thought the idea of babies using sign language was a bit ridiculous and that only really keen mums would make the effort to teach their baby to sign. Even when I had my own child and I saw mums teaching sign language to four month olds I wondered whether it was worth the effort (but I secretly went home and tried to teach Emily some signs).
It wasn’t until I saw a friend’s one year old using some signs that I really started to see the benefits of babies signing. He would walk up to something he wanted and sign “please” and his mum would know exactly what he wanted. I thought to myself “This is brilliant, he can tell us what he wants!”
I did not start signing with Emily until she was thirteen months old and to my surprise she picked up the signs straight away. I was being tight and did not want to purchase a whole signing program (although I hear there are lots that are really great) so I just found some signs on the internet and borrowed a book from a friend. We had signs for please, eat, drink, bath, brush teeth, sleep and milk which were the main ones we thought we would need. We found it amazing that she could now tell us what she needed and did not need to whinge and have me work out what she wanted.
Now, I know there are lots of people who think it delays their speech (which I have heard has been proven untrue) but I think it actually helps with speech as one of Emily’s first words was “Eat”, a sign she used constantly. Even if it did delay her speech she is two and a half now and has been speaking lots since around eighteen months so I don’t think that would count as delayed.
We have been teaching Claire since she was eleven months (she just turned one a couple of weeks ago) and she is doing really well. She even says “drink” when signing drink which we think is exciting. Emily has even gone back to using her signs to teach Claire too.
I wanted to blog about this because I think signing is awesome and life changing (ok maybe that is a bit dramatic). It changes your baby from whinging when they want something, to communicating clearly and makes life easier for the parents. I think anything that makes parenting easier is worth a try and you don’t have to follow a set program. You can just start with a few common signs and make up your own if you want to. My kids ended up making up a few signs of their own or modified the ones we taught them anyway. If you have little ones give it a go and let me know what you think.
|Claire signing "please"|
|I thought I should give her a drink since I made her sign drink about 50 times|
|Emily wanted to get in on the signing action|