Before Munchkin was born I decided I wanted to use Baby Sign Language to help bridge the communication gap. I had NO clue how awesome the experience was going to be.
We started signing with Munchkin when she was about two weeks old. I know, it seems really early to start but we figured she was observing her surroundings why not start then! We only showed her the sign for milk every time she nursed. Which seemed like a 100 times a day!
Around 4 months old we started feeding her purees. At this time we started showing her a couple more signs, ‘Eat’, ‘More’ and ‘All Done’. Repetition was key. I will give credit where credit is due, Rand McNally was AWESOME at remember to sign every single time!
When you teach signs you have to say the word as you sign it. This allows the child to hear the English word as well as seeing the Sign. Do not expect to see the signs from the child as exact copies of the actual sign. In fact, most of the signs are similar but never the same! The also depends on the age of the infant/toddler.
I was pretty sure we would never see a sign from her little baby hands. Then one day at Target of all places she was fussing in her carseat on the cart. We were at the check out and Rand McNally was watching her as I loaded the items on the belt. He said, “Mae, I think she is signing ‘eat’?!?!” I looked up and sure enough she was. It looked NOTHING like what I had been showing her but she kept touching her mouth. She was 6 months old! I couldn’t believe it. We gave her a cracker and that ended her fussing! She was talking to us… with her hands!!!
Slowly other Signs came into her vocabulary. By a about a year she was signing about a half dozen words and evening stringing some together. “More eat” was a favorite!
When Munchkin was about 7 months old we took a class taught by a certified Baby Signs Instructor. You can search here to find a class in your area. It was awesome because she could interact with other babies and I could interact with other Moms learning the same thing! The teacher was awesome and she gave us great advice on how to incorporate signs into our normal daily routines.
One of my favorite lessons she taught us was to teach them signs that are motivating to them as well as the signs you want them to learn. Typically, those signs are like ‘Ball’, ‘Book’, or animal signs. Well for my crazy baby it was ‘Light’. Yes you read that correctly… ‘Light’. She would sign light anywhere and ALL.THE.TIME.
One time we were out at a restaurant and she signed ‘Light’ at ever single light fixture she could see! Each time she did we responded with “Yes, Munchkin that is a light!” and her face lit up! She was happy that we understood her. That is what Sign Language does… bridges communication between parents and babies!
Munchkin was very quick to talk. She had a ton of words and FAST! However, she would use her signs to clarify. This cut down on the screaming and crying. She also signed ‘please’ for a very long time. It was adorable!
We had such and awesome experience with Munchkin and Sign Language that we taught Peanut in a very similar fashion. She has also been able to communicate with us. She just turned a year a couple weeks ago. She can sign Milk, Eat, More, All Done, Water, Light, Please and Thank You.
You can start to teach your baby/toddler sign language at any point! So don’t think that you missed the boat if your baby is older! Check out Baby Signs because they have a huge assortment of products that will help you get started. The products are awesome and I loved them and so do both the girls!