Baby's Firsts

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What's Your Sign, Baby?

Posted by on Mar. 26, 2014 at 1:05 PM
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According to my daycare lady, most babies' first signs are related to food: "give me" and "more" and "milk" (although not necessarily in that order). I found this to be true with both my babies, and I only wish I'd known that earlier, before my ambitions exceeded my first child's abilities.

See, someone gave us a deck of sign language cards when my oldest was born, and being a bright-eyed first-time parent, I diligently learned the signs for airplane and tree and helicopter and turtle, and then tried to teach them to an infant who barely knew what any of those things were in the first place. I didn't realize that my baby wouldn't be interested in communicating about any of these things for some time, and at least not until he'd mastered signs that would take care of his basic needs, the first and foremost of which is always FOOD.

It would be useless, for instance, to expect a one-year-old to master complicated signs (like the "I love you" in the photo above) (or is that baby throwing rock-and-roll horns?). But boy is it fun to watch the lightbulb blink on over a baby's head as he realizes he can communicate before he can talk. Some babies will even make up their own signs, and some babies will never sign and be perfectly fine with that. Above all, signing should be pressure-free. I mean, it's great and all, but if a baby wants to "talk" about a ball or a horsie or whatever, pointing and grunting remains amazingly effective.

What I learned was to keep my babies' vocabulary of signs small and simple and relevant to their interests. Mostly, baby sign language has been useful in getting my kids through that frustrating gap between when they know what they want but just can't say it yet. If you're considering teaching your baby some signs, definitely keep it simple.

Do you use sign language with your baby?

Image © iStock/S847

by on Mar. 26, 2014 at 1:05 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Nicole on Mar. 26, 2014 at 1:16 PM
I took sign language in high school. I figured I would teach her food, more, and all done. She is 10 months old. The only sign she knows is all done. Which is nice, because if she tells me then she doesn't get upset when i clear her plate.
by Brandy - Admin on Mar. 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM
We didn't do any signing with dd but she ended up being very vocal early on so it didn't really matter.
by Melli on Mar. 26, 2014 at 2:02 PM

We tried it a few times but it never stuck.

by Linnette on Mar. 26, 2014 at 6:16 PM
Quoting cabrandy03: We didn't do any signing with dd but she ended up being very vocal early on so it didn't really matter.

Same here with DS.
by on Mar. 26, 2014 at 10:55 PM

We used sign language with DS because he has speech delays. Worked like a charm!! :)

by Alexandra on Mar. 27, 2014 at 8:16 AM
Same here.

Quoting cabrandy03: We didn't do any signing with dd but she ended up being very vocal early on so it didn't really matter.
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by Member on Mar. 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

I did! and my kid did great! I cant remember her first sign though. I know i have it written down somewhere. We did about a dozen or so signs including, more, sleep, milk, go, all done, bath.. etc. So they where all things she saw/ heard on a daily basis. It took a while for ME to stick with using the signs, but once i stuck with it (out of the house too) then she picked up pretty quick.... THEN she started to talk, at about 11 months old. By a  year and a half she had abandoned signing and was speaking in sentences. 

Part of me wishes i wouldnt have quit signing with her, after all it would be like a second language. She would also be able to help me teach sign language to her siblings.

If you have a young baby and your thinking of doing it, go to the bookstore and get "the joy of signing". It teaches you how to use the language and is basically a sign language dictionary.  It also uses the CORRECT signs, when "baby signs" are different. Its a wonderful step up for the little ones.

by Darbie - Head Admin on Mar. 27, 2014 at 9:23 AM
We did with my son and it cut his tantrums in half since he was able to communicate with us. I only did the basics with him and I will use it with this baby too
by Silver Member on Mar. 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

 I wanted to,but didn't. I am a slacker lol

by New Member on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:50 AM
I wish I would have. Ds was so whiny it was horrible. He would just cry when he wanted something. He can finally talk but still trys to just cry to get whatever he wants rather than talk.
My sil taught my nephew sihn language and started with more and food. He was a much more content kid and I think that might have been why
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