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Baby signing

(22 Posts)
sanfair Mon 16-Aug-10 19:12:34

Has anyone tried baby signing?
Does it work?
And surely you don't need to sign up for expensive classes to implement it?

Mousieme Mon 16-Aug-10 19:42:23

Hi Sanfair
I started signing with DS at around 9 months...started with "milk" for bottle. Takes awhile but eventually he picked it up now at 20 months he knows over 40 signs but tends to only use the ones he needs daily. And yes it DOES work. It's amazing the few tantrums we have had because he is able to signs if he can't say the words. Personally i dont think you need classes etc. Im in NZ so I use the NZ signing from the online dictionery. Not sure if you are in the UK but there is a link for the American signing (depends on what one UK uses). A few days ago DS signed "Cars" "TV" "then his sisters name" tell me he wanted her to put on his Cars DVD on the TV. Its fantastic and oh so cute

lifeas3plus1 Mon 16-Aug-10 20:58:20

We started Baby Signing at 5 months. By 10 months he had the basic signs, Milk, Eat, Sleep and Nappy and continued to learn at least 1 or 2 signs every other day after that.

He's now 16 months and signs A LOT.

I love it. He can communicate what he needs which brings the frustrations to a minimum.

We went to classes for a couple terms to pick up the basics (and to get out the house for an hour on a friday) but then carried on at home. You do need to be consistant though. Eventually you'll find yourself signing automatically without thinking about it.

Roo83 Mon 16-Aug-10 20:59:54

We did baby signing-I went to classes, which were nice as they had singing, play time etc. so good interaction for ds but dont think they are necessary if you are doing other groups anyway. Ds wasnt great at signing, only ever did a few, but I think that was more down to me not enforcing it enough at home, but he did start to talk really early-which is apparently linked with children that learn to sign. So maybe it did have some benefits after all

TurtleAnn Mon 16-Aug-10 21:17:37

I have yet to find any written evidence that it 'works', not published by the companies profiting from sign. However, I can find lots of evidence to suggest it is beneficial for lots of reasons such as encouraging parents to communicate with their children and modify their own talking so it is more accessible to young babies. You don;t need an expensive course, you can buy baby sign books on Amazon and get started at home. The benefit of a course is that you share your experience with other Mums and learn songs and communication and interaction styles in a supported environment, so maybe learn more about communication as a parent than you would from a book.
Nowadays, it is really common to sign in nursery and if you go to a singalong group you'll more than likely find them signing to action songs. I have found at my local rhymetime they are doing signs. If you have anything free/ surestart linked, they'll all be signing along with the songs.
My 1 tip, it doesn't matter if the sign is 'real' so long as it's consistent. My son chose the sign he wanted to use for 'spider', its not BSL or Makaton he made it up, but its meaningful to him and as far as I'm concerned a valid sign, so thats the one we use, like baby talk, he'll get the word and drop the sign eventually.

stottiecake Mon 16-Aug-10 22:46:07

I used to use makaton in my last job so I just used the signs I could remember and the ones I didn't know/ couldn't remember I made up. Also ds made some up which were fab - a great jazz hands for bumble bee for example
He is dropping signs now and using the words but occasionally signs and uses the word at the same time. He is nearly 21 mo.
I found it so helpful and ds clearly loved telling me he had spotted a bird/ butterfly/ tree/ flower or heard a plane/ helicopter/ bus etc.
Also it was extremely useful as he could tell me he wanted a drink or an orange or a sandwich or chocolate hmm. No confusion at all!
I would recommend it (can you tell? grin)

stottiecake Mon 16-Aug-10 22:47:13

think I went overboard on the smileys...

belindarose Tue 17-Aug-10 10:26:40

I've used makaton with my DD as like PP I already knew it. No classes for us. She's one this week and has suddenly started using loads of signs, so was obviously picking up on what I've been doing. She started with 'drink' and 'finished' about 6 weeks ago and now does 'milk', 'orange', 'car', 'all gone', 'food', 'duck', 'bird' (as of yesterday, it seems like a new one every day). I was beginning to think it hadn't been worth it, but she must have just been taking it all in.

IMoveTheStars Tue 17-Aug-10 10:28:55

Definitely worked with DS. We never went to classes - just watched 'Something Special' every day and it was amazing how quickly we both picked it up. Definitely helped diffuse any tantrums before he could talk, and he still uses it sometimes now at 2.7 (useful for communicating across a busy room grin)

cathmullen Fri 05-Aug-11 16:55:15

I've been using Bamba's baby signing kit - works a treat & saves you having to go to a class. It's made by babysignfactory - I've got a 6 month old and I used Bamba with my other 2. The twins are 2 now and right little chatterboxes. Info at

petitdonkey Fri 05-Aug-11 17:03:41

I tried signing with all three of mine. DS really didn't take to it at all, we went to classes but he wasn't interested and just wanted to run around. Did it with DD1, again at classes (sing & Sign) and it was brilliant!! She used to sign so much and then began to speak quite young and very well. With DD2, we just watched the videos and learnt the songs and, she too, used it a lot and I felt that it reduced frustration. It was especially useful with her as a lady looked after her from about 15 months old - they watched the DVD together a few times and it meant that I knew she could communicate her needs.

If you teach your child nothing more than 'eat, drink, more, all done, please/thank-you and sorry' you will find it useful.

My best anecdote comes from when DD was about 20 months; we were outside getting in the car and she signed 'aeroplane', I said 'oh yes, I see the aeroplane' and we carried on. It was only as I drove off that I reflected that with DS a similar scenario would have him pointing and grunting and me saying 'tree? Bird? sky?'.... YOu know how children just keep on until you actually repeat what they have said back to them??? Anyway, there were many times with my girls that I found signing to be helpful if not delightful!!

camdancer Fri 05-Aug-11 19:39:06

I've done signing classes since DS was 9 months. We go because the classes (tiny talk) are lovely - a bit of singing, a bit of playing/talking. DS really got into signing and had a huge vocabulary but we also made some really good friends. I do think it reduced the frustration some toddlers get when they can't communicate. The best story was when we were walking in to town one day DS was signing tractor. What, there aren't tractors in town - I said. But yes there was!

DD1 went to her first class at 8 days. It was a safe place I could go with a toddler and a baby. DD1 didn't really do many signs - she could talk early. But we still go to classes because we both enjoy them. She loves to sing so it is perfect for her and the toddler classes are much ore active for her.

DD2 also went to her first class at 8 days old. Once DD1 starts preschool then I'll go to classes just with her. I will also do the basic signs with her at home - milk, more etc.

Rosemallow Fri 05-Aug-11 19:47:04

We tried the signing classes from about 6 months but they were totally oversubscribed in our area (Leeds) and we paid for 1hr and after 40 mins the lady wrapped up and went onto coffee and chatting hmm

DD didn't pick much up from there, except 'milk' but watching Something Special each day, she picked up loads. She still loves it now even though she is a very good talker.
DS is 5 months and I've taught him 'milk' so far but don't think I'll bother with formal classes this time.

working9while5 Fri 05-Aug-11 20:24:50

I'm a speech therapist and I just signed as I talked, particularly when reading books when I came across words I knew would be a challenge to say for a long, long time e.g. elephant, caterpillar, butterfly etc.

Like stottiecake, my son had a lot of signs at one point but these are dropping off as he acquires language, although he does use them where he can't say a word e.g. penguin! I really liked the window into his mind aspect of it, e.g. seeing how he overgeneralised things e.g. seeing a snowman and signing "penguin" or seeing a crab and signing "spider". It helped me to share those early thoughts with him and of course, if he signed spider, I would say "Crab, that's a crab, honey" so I could give him language for what he was seeing when I might not otherwise have even clocked that he was really looking at the crab in particular. You could argue, however, that he would have been likely to point if there was no sign, so it was perhaps more amazing for me than beneficial for him!

I am doing an MSc in gesture and gesture comprehension and gestures (natural ones, like we all do) are actually pretty important in language development, sign is an extension of this and so I feel, to be supported. I think baby signing helps you as a parent to attribute intentionality to your child, although research on this is equivocal.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists does not endorse its use, but there has been strong criticism of this by some speech and language therapists as there are studies which suggest that gesture and sign are helpful, and that it supports parental communication e.g. highlighting key words, slowing down speech input, responding to early communication attempts etc.

I don't think it can really hurt, anyway, and it was fun but I didn't go to any classes, nor did I do it to give him any intellectual advantage, but just because it was almost second nature to me.

TinyTalkCharlie Sat 29-Jun-13 17:25:13

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Goldmandra Sat 29-Jun-13 20:23:24

More advertising!

spaceangel1382 Sat 29-Jun-13 22:13:20

I started with a second hand DVD from a car boot sale when Dd was 9 month old. It was one if the best things I ever did. Because she could communicate better there were hardly any frustrated temper tantrums. At 2.5 she still done times uses a sign out if habit. Totally worth while. We joined a class eventually but that was more for social reasons. Do it! You get such a thrill when they sign to you

BabySigningCharlie Sun 30-Jun-13 12:09:10

You don't need to do baby signing if you are comfortable understanding your child however there are a great many benefits to using sign language with babies & young toddlers.

All children develop differently, on average babies get their motor control around 4-6 months (this is when they start to wave, clap & point, and aware they can control their own hands), the muscles in their mouth & throat don't strengthen up until around 12-18 months. Children don't get all their speech blocks until they are about 5 yrs old.

Signing really helps bridge the gaps: aiding babies who can't yet verbalise to use simple signs and gestures to communicate their needs / wants & observations. Support young toddlers & children who don't have all their speech blocks to clarify their spoken word and support their language development. Signs also act as hooks helping children to remember words and associate them with objects.

I started with my son at 8 weeks, just 'milk' & 'pain' by 12 weeks he was reacting to both sufficiently I could tell when he wanted his milk but also (and more importantly to me at the time) tell if it was teething pain or colic that was troubling him - he reacted differently for each - bliss!!!

I continued to use signs with regularly up until he was 3 and a half, as although he had an extensive vocabulary (over 500 words by the age of 2) as his speech was still developing some of his words sounded very similar so rather than constantly asking him to repeat words I didn't understand and knocking his confidence, I would ask him twice and then ask for the sign to clarify. This was much better for his confidence and a lot less frustrating for both of us.

I also found it very beneficial when I left him with anyone else (my mum / my brother etc) rather than spending 2 hours explaining all his little quirks, cries & mutters it was much easier to show them a handful of signs and have confidence that both they & he would be understood & understand.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS TO SPEAK & SIGN AT THE SAME TIME. This way babies & children are exposed to spoken word too and you won't hinder their language development.

I enjoyed the class I took my son to , I certainly didn't find them full of competition and it’s not about being 'initiated' a vast majority of attendees are hearing adults & children however there are deaf adults & children too. Its all about making life easier for everyone - not putting barriers up.

It is also great for dual language families especially where individuals might only speak one language as the sign doesn't change whether you are speaking English, Polish, Russian, German etc.

You do need to use the signs at home as well as at sessions (if you don't they'll still pick it up it will just take longer) the more they see the quicker they'll recognise them and react to them (and in turn use them). It can feel a little awkward to start as you get used to using the signs however most people gesture to some degree when talking and you soon find yourself using the signs with ease and to everyone!

Try a local session, all groups are different and use different signing structures and incorporate different elements / different formats. So it’s worth asking them what they use and trying more than one if you can.

LittleSporksBigSpork Sun 30-Jun-13 13:46:38

British sign language is a language like any other language and works just the same as other languages (though it has very different grammar, and it's not just signs but full facial and body language when compared to English). Many children pick individual words and sentences faster in signed languages than with spoken languages, but any language is beneficial and BSL should be treated as any other additional language when considering (but don't use BSL with non-English languages: German sign language, Russian Sign Language, and Polish Sign Language are very different, even American-English Sign Language is drastically different from British Sign Language).

Personally, I avoided "baby sign" classes as they tend to treat BSL as a language to discard later and tend to limit it a lot and are quite expensive for little and as someone who uses and teaches BSL, family BSL classes tend to do more. You don't really need expensive classes, look around for signing cafes which often have free/cheap family sessions, Sign language practice groups are often open, and websites like and offer products that can give you a start (I've found many start well with products and moving to groups to boost confidence and get a better handle on grammar and local signs).

Joethedaddy Fri 03-Jun-16 06:07:06

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Daddyja Wed 08-Jun-16 06:51:17

My children started picking up signs from around seven months. I don't think you need classes to begin with, unless you think you and your child will really need the skill later on. We watched Something Special (makaton) to start with. Justin Fletcher (aka mr tumble) was on BBC breakfast the other morning where he said he began by teaching himself 300 signs. Then we borrowed some of the Let's Sign books from the library (BSL) including a sign language dictionary. Cath Smith's illustrations are very good. For a fun way to learn you should check out Terry the Monkey, which uses monkeys to teach children sign language. Google Terry the monkey or terrythemonkey. Learning any language is worthwhile. as long as you say the words as you sign, there is no risk of inhibiting speech.

Dizzydodo Wed 08-Jun-16 06:56:56

I did it with dd, the classes were fun but I was a bit half hearted doing it at home. We've just stuck to a few signs which she uses often, 'more' 'help' 'milk' and 'biscuit'. Help has been a useful one to learn.

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