Monday, September 9, 2013

Baby Sign and Where have we been?

Where have I been! I know you are all wondering! Well the unexciting explanation is that we have been having some technical issues around here; my laptop is having a tantrum. But luckily I have gotten my hands on DH’s for today.

Quick Evie update: She is now 18 months old, 21lb and 30 inches. She is a running and climbing little whirlwind. She is saying about 40 words and knows 8 signs.

This brings me to today’s topic: Baby sign. Some people have never heard of it, some have heard a lot, but worst of all, some people have heard false/outdated information. For the record I am very pro, but I respect anyone’s researched opinion.

A very messy Evie signing "all done"
We love using baby sign with Evie it really works for her because she needs to be responded to quickly. Before she could talk, she could easily communicate to use her basic needs which kept confusion and tantrums to a minimum. Her first signs were, of course, all about FOOD! Her first sign was “more”, which she also used for food also until she learned a separate sign. This allowed her to tell us if she was hungry for solid foods. Next she learned “all done”, which gave us a split second to get things off her tray before she cleared it herself. She still uses it to communicate when she is truly done with dinner and not just taking a break. “Drink” and “food” followed logically after that, and then we move into a different sector. “Help” has become a wonderfully helpful sign, it allows me to understand when she is frustrated but working on her own problems vs. when she needs me to interfere.

How did we first start signing? When she was about 8 months old we registered for the free weekly class at our library presented by “Talk with Me” which is a government early language program. They taught me that 8 months was the perfect time to start getting a response from her. Before 8 months they can understand signs and can begin learning, but cannot respond very well. We started out gently but somewhere around 9 months she began signing back with her first signs a few weeks before her first words.

From my unprofessional research that is right on track. Babies sign, on average, their first sign about 3 weeks before they produce their first word. Most studies conclude that there is a slight lasting advantage in communication skills for the first few years, even the worst studies conclude it is of neutral consequence. That I guess is my driving point. Please don’t believe the outmoded and false idea that babies will rely on sign and be delayed because of baby sign. When used correctly (the golden rule is to ALWAYS say and sign the word together) it will be at worst a way to communicate and at best may be an advantage. I completely understand it may not be for everyone, I just hope that people have the chance to base their decision on correct data.

I would encourage any parents of young babies to consider sign as it can really reduce frustration for both you and your baby and can be a great bonding and learning time.

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