Did you know that babies can communicate before they can talk? I have experienced the joys of signing with all three of my children and I always tell people that signing with them was one of my best parenting moves ever. Babies naturally communicate with gestures, facial expressions, sounds and body language before they can speak, so tapping into that ability and teaching them sign language is easier than you may think.
I became a baby sign language instructor so that I could share this gift of communication and fun with other families. Signing can be very helpful before babies learn to talk because they can tell you what they want or need. I remember when my son was a baby, once he learned the sign for “milk” he would ask for milk regularly when he was getting tired or if he was not feeling well. It was so nice that he had a way to tell me that he needed a little milk and the snuggle that went along with it. Baby signing also gives you a window into what your little one is thinking since they can tell you things about their surroundings like if they noticed a dog or a bird at the park. Around the time that my daughter turned one, she was obsessed with flowers and dogs and would sign “flower” or “dog” every time she saw one. It was amazing how aware she was of her surroundings and how excited she was that she could share her experiences with us and that we could understand her. My daughter is now almost two, and signing has become even more useful as she is learning to talk. Sometimes a lot of her words still sound the same and it saves a lot of frustration for both of us when she can use her signs to complement her sentences and help me understand what she is saying.
Dusty Riemer and her daughter attended one of my Introduction to Baby Signing Workshops, after the workshop they started using the Signing Time DVDs and CDs that my classes are based on to continue learning and introducing new signs. Here is what she had to say about signing with her little one “My daughter is easily able to communicate with us and is elated that we understand her, we’ve even brought her grandparents on board! I get so excited to introduce signing to my friends who have little ones. Most can’t believe how fast and much can be learned at such a young age. Do I recommend signing with your baby? Yes, you have to try it!”.
Babies usually make their first signs around 10-12 months of age, but can start understanding signs much sooner, and in some cases they even start signing sooner. Some popular signs to start with include “milk”, “more”, “all done” and “eat”. It is a great way to communicate, but the bonding experience can be even more powerful when you can tap into your little one’s thoughts and show them that you understand what they want or need.
I teach classes in Calgary to help other families learn how to communicate using baby sign language. My classes are full of songs and books to keep the little one entertained while the parents learn the basic signs and how to incorporate baby signing into their day. For registration details or to learn more about baby sign language, please visit my website: www.calgaryissigning.com.