Baby signing - helpful or a load of codswallop?

(31 Posts)
u32ng Thu 14-Mar-13 11:29:10

So I saw an ad recently about baby signing classes for helping kids express their needs eg. Milk, tired etc Also read a story about a woman who took her son to such a class & was able to tell her 'scared' & 'light' which explained why bedtimes had been such a trial.

Anyway, this sounds interesting & I'd be keen on doing it but don't know if it would be any good or just rubbish really!

Anyone had a good/indifferent experience with it?

Bumpsadaisie Thu 14-Mar-13 12:01:11

I didn't do a formal class, but my DS and I seem to have developed our own little sign language without really planning it.

I just did a swigging motion when saying " would you like a drink?", put my head on one side and closed eyes for "time for a sleep", pointing at mouth and making chomping noises for "something to eat?". And probably loads of others too. He loves it and just copies whatever I do.

Bumpsadaisie Thu 14-Mar-13 12:01:56

PS how old is your DC? Mine probably got going with the signing from about 13/14 months.

I tried a class but didn't like it so I bought the DVD. I found it very helpful for DC1, he loved signing, and even made up his own signs for things. I feel it made him less frustrated because he could communicate with me.

I didn't have time to do it with DC2 though!

VinegarDrinker Thu 14-Mar-13 12:06:24

I think it entirely depends on whether your DC is an early talker. We didn't do signing but DS talked from 9m (well before any of his friends who did do signing signed anything meaningful) and has been fluently speaking in sentences for quite some time (just turned 2). So I think signing would've been a bit of a waste of time for us. However if your DC speaks later I imagine it could be really useful.

Unfortunately you don't know which yours will be! You have nothing to lose except £, but lots of people say it can be a fun class regardless of whether they "get it".

wiganwagonwheelworks Thu 14-Mar-13 12:08:09

you could look on CBeebies at their Makaton section first and try a few signs to see how you get on? Link

Pootles2010 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:19:24

My ds does it at nursery, they did it anyway but its been particularly helpful as one of his little friends has learning difficulties so won't ever be able to talk, but can do basic sign language, so its lovely that they all know it.

hazeyjane Thu 14-Mar-13 12:27:27

Ds has sn, and has no speech (he is 2.8) and we have been doing makaton signing with him since he was about 10 months old. He has just recently started signing back to us, and it is amazing, that he is able to communicate with us even though he can't talk. We have never done formal classes, but have picked it up through nursery (which is sn), Something Special and dvds.

If you wanted to learn some the Something Special website is good, try to start with just a couple of basic signs ('more' 'milk' 'biscuit' are pretty good ones!), make eye contact and say the word clearly whilst you sign. There are some good dvds with signed songs, which is a nice way of learning them.

My friend did baby signing with her ds (nt) when he was a baby, she loved them, and I remember being really impressed that he could ask for milk before he could talk!

So from my experience, not codswallop!

I didn't do a formal class. I just looked up the signs and taught ds them. Some of them are his own signs that I reinforced in the right way so that they have meaning. After all, at this stage the people that need to understand him are few and by the time he mingles he should be able to talk.

Some of his 'signs' are verbal. He's 9 months. We started with 'more' which is a clap, at 6 months.

RooneyMara Thu 14-Mar-13 12:46:28

I haven't tried this - sounds interesting but then don't they start to speak soon after they can sign meaningfully (I mean be taught to sign)?

Mine signs already when he's hungry - hand to mouth - he is 10 weeks old. Other things I try to interpret through his cries.

u32ng Thu 14-Mar-13 13:02:43

Well DS is only 6wks so I'm a little bit ahead of myself for now! Actually as he seems to spend so much time being hungry, I already recognise his hunger sign (side swipe across his mouth with his left hand). Although the mental crying usually gives it away before then, the little Hungry Horace!

Anyway, I like the idea of just looking stuff up online & doing it myself. Will definitely look into makaton - I used to work with a girl who's mum taught it & about how helpful it had been for people with sn or post-stroke to express themselves.

I am a speech therapist and experimented with signing with my first child who signed at about 7/8months by the time he was talking (first proper words at 13 months) he had a signing vocabulary of 20 words. He also had verbal dyspraxia and it really helped as his speech was largely unintelligible until he was 4. He is now 9 and I can never shut him up.

I went to classes with my second child as I wanted the social side from it and the music class and it was the one place I could take both children at no extra cost. Loved them. He signed when he was 11 months and by the time he had his first words had huge signing vocabulary (16months).

When I had my third I was teaching Babysigning, she signed at 6 months over 30 signed words by the time she said her first word at 11months.

So I can say that I love signing but think that the classes are more than just about the signs. They are social, musical, fun, encourage movement an opportunity to make friends and have a drink and biscuit. They also help encourage you to use the signs and remind you of how best to introduce them to your little one.

I know my opinion is biased but I wouldn't have done it, gone to them and started teaching them if I though it wasn't worth it.

KatoPotato Thu 14-Mar-13 13:21:32

I went to a franchise class when DS was about 6months or so, (we lasted 6 sessions) and was surrounded by miserable looking older children signing at 16months plus and not speaking!

This is of course only my very limited experience but the parents were v competitive and it seemed that the children had learned to sign instead of speaking? There's good songs and if you get a nice group the social side could be fun but my local class was rubbish!

Rose50 Thu 14-Mar-13 13:47:53

I agree with vinegar that it depends if your dc is an early talker. My dd1 was a very early talker and we didn't do any signing. However dd2 has a speech delay and we have just finished our second term of stage 2. It has been extremely helpful for both of us and enables dd2 to communicate her needs.

hels71 Thu 14-Mar-13 17:38:48

We did sing and sign and DD started signing at around 9-10 months. She was late talking, at 20 months still only had 5 words, but was talking in sentences by the time she was 2. She signed all the time though.

In the class we went to some children talked very early, some late, som ein between so it would not seem that signing prevented talking!

However my DD was certainly less frustrated than some of my friends non-signing children, even if they had a few more words, as her signing meant we knew what she wanted almost all the time.

I did it a bit with DC1, and found it worked well but she talked early so I got lazy and stopped.

With DC2 I signed much more consistently as he was v prem and we were told to look out for developmental delays etc and the NICU encouraged us to look at signing as a way of getting ahead of the curve if it came to that (it didn't!). I took him to a 6 week course at our local sure start centre to start with, then just used the signs we learnt and others I picked up along the way. He was later to talk and signing definitely helped him tell me what he wanted smile

InvaderZim Thu 14-Mar-13 18:31:02

We didn't do classes, just trolled the Internet for info, got the Sign and Sign DVD from the library, and developed a minor addiction to Mr Tumble. :D

DD didn't sign until she was 12 months, we'd been signing AT her for at least 2 months before that. smile Didn't affect her speech at all, she had about 50 words at 15 months.

Signing does not delay speech if done properly as you use the word whenever you sign therefore equal exposure is given to both.

Babies can acquire signs earlier than speech because the muscles required to sign are developed prior to the muscles for speech.

It is an invaluable tool for those children who are a little later to use words as it can significantly reduce frustration and help communication in my experience.

MrsSpencerReid Thu 14-Mar-13 19:36:43

I really enjoy the baby signing classes as does DS, regardless of how many signs he learns it still fun and you get a cuppa and a choc biscuit smile

We did the classes. Our local ones were Tiny Talk and we loved the classes and our fab teacher. I never bothered to follow this up with signing at home, so DD only really got going on the signs they taught at nursery. I still think we got a lot out of the classes.

Judyandherdreamofhorses Thu 14-Mar-13 20:04:59

I did it with DD. I knew makaton anyway so didn't go to classes. She didn't sign anything until she was 12 months, but at 13 months had a 100+ word signing vocabulary! She started talking around 14-15 months and dropped the use of each sign as she acquired the spoken word.

It definitely reduced frustration for her at that age (didn't last long term though - she's 3.6 now and can tantrum for England).

Baby DS (8 months) already signs 'cat', 'drink' and 'milk'. I don't suppose I'll be able to be as committed to it as I was with his sister though.

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Fri 15-Mar-13 15:18:16

Signing is FANTASTIC. I took DS from about 5 months and he was soon asking for 'milk' and he has loved it. He was also an early talker and I think that signing helped him with this.

There is new research showing how beneficial signing is for babies, I'll try to find a link!

ellesabe Fri 15-Mar-13 19:38:19

We went to sing and sign from 14-20mo and it really helped dd. When she started talking, all of her first words were ones that she could sign.

gloucestergirl Fri 15-Mar-13 19:39:28

Hmmm, in the spirit of balance I'll give my experience. Either I am a rubbish signer, DD is a bit thick or it doesn't work for everyone. I have been signing for various things since DD was 10 months and now at 13 months she knows two signs: hello (which she knew way before and isn't exactly the most sophisicated sign) and cuddle.

I thought that baby-signing sounded great and was very enthuasiastic about it. But all I have done is provided much laughter for friends and family and been almost totally ignored by DD. As I am abroad, there are no classes for us.

All these stories sound wonderful and make me very green with jealousy. But I can't help wonder how many others there are like me who haven't posted (hopefully a few meaning that me and DD aren't so useless!).

Good luck OP - maybe the classes make a difference.

ellesabe Fri 15-Mar-13 19:55:46

Gloucester your dd is still so little! We didn't even start signing until 14mo...

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