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thoughts on baby signing?

(35 Posts)
beccala Sat 02-Feb-13 10:02:51

Hi all,

I'm interested to know people's views on baby signing. On the one hand it sounds like a good idea to help babies communicate from an earlier age than they can speak, but on the other hand does it hold up their language development? I'm newly pregnant so am a long way off from making a decision as to whether it's right for us, but would love to know your views.

PeggyL Sat 02-Feb-13 10:13:31

Hi, i don't think it holds it up - i used Makaton signing with my son from about 6 months, didn't use loads just signing for food, tired, more - it worked well & has not hindered his speech as you say the word as you sign, can't shut him up now grin good luck with your pregnancy x

Pleasenomorepeppa Sat 02-Feb-13 10:16:17

I used Makaton with DD too.
It worked really well. She was always able to make herself understood, never had any tantrums & as she started talking she gradually stopped signing!

ChunkyPickle Sat 02-Feb-13 10:17:45

I don't think it holds up either - although DS flatly refused to sign or speak until he did both at once.

But then he's very stubborn. Even now at 2.5 he uses the 'more' sign as emphasis, although all others have fallen by the wayside.

notcitrus Sat 02-Feb-13 10:59:05

The idea with baby signing is to sign as well as speak, and that it speeds up language development (as opposed to using 2 languages in the household which can slow it down initially but then the child catches up and obviously ends up with 2 languages).

Not that it speeds it up in all cases - ds started sing+sign at 6 months and I signed before that, but he didn't say or sign anything until nearly 20 months, when suddenly he acquired a dozen signs and 20 words in a week, a couple hundred in a month, and had a much larger vocab than most of his peers by his 2nd birthday.

dd is nearly a year and has signed MILK for ages, but now uses it to mean anything she wants you to give her right now, which now isn't only milk but could be anything. She also signs DUCK, and understands a few others as well as repeating a dozen words when I use them and putting hands in the air to be lifted up. No idea if the signing has helped.

The classes are great fun though and introduce the ideas of turn-taking and putting things away etc.

twoboyslater Sat 02-Feb-13 11:08:30

I looked into this just after ds1 was born (jul'11) after a friend had started it for her ds. I spoke to my Health Visitor, who advised that it is actively discouraged by Health Visitors & Gps in our district unless the child is struggling to develop his/her speech.
I didnt do it myself, but my friend had such bad problems with her ds that i didnt want to try. Her ds didn't want to speak, not even a 'mama' or 'dada' (as signing was his form of communication- why learn another?) until he was 2.5years old. Saying that, he is a very adorable little boy and you can't shut him up now grin

LadyLech Sat 02-Feb-13 21:49:47

I did signing with my daughter, and as a result she had very advanced communication. I know this, because she was being observed by a local university baby lab at the time (for something different) and they told me grin. By about 2, she had over 500 words and signs. I believe the average is 50? Again, I know this as I had to document it for the babylab.

I remember her frantically signing at about a year 'light' and we worked out her night wakings was due to her being scared of the dark. We had tried everything logical previously, but hadn't thought that she might be scared of the dark.

At 1, she would sign 'washing machine' to ask to go and watch someone's washing machine (bless her, she had an obsession with them, and used to like looking at them at different people's houses).

She would also ask for me to read a book, and then sign to tell me which one she wanted!

How many other just turned one year olds can ask for the light to be turned on, to go and see a washing machine, or to request a specific book? It gave her language far beyond her 'year', and I would certainly recommend it.

LadyLech Sat 02-Feb-13 21:53:43

Forgot to add that she naturally dropped the signs as she learnt to say the words, and her 500 words that she could speak at 2 were predominantly all previous signs. All her first spoken words were signs, and by 2, the signs had been almost totally dropped.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 02-Feb-13 21:55:11

There is lots of good evidence that signing encourages language development, I'd go for it.

HoratiaWinwood Sat 02-Feb-13 21:55:20

Both my DCs were on the slow side to talk, but signed from around 9m. DC1 is now noticeably more fluent than his peers (as commented on by his teachers, and he is one of the youngest in his Reception class).

But frankly the most difference it made to us was the communication we got in the meantime. Like LadyLech we could really see into their minds, and even now that DC2 is talking a lot of his words still sound similar but the sign backup tells us if it's "nappy change" or "trains".

TheMightyLois Sat 02-Feb-13 21:57:41

I did it with DS, he loved it. Signed his first word (butterfly) at 8mo when he saw one behind me. Could always tell me what he wanted.

He also had virtually no tantrums.

I am not saying that these two things are linked, but he certainly wasn't a frustrated toddler.

He did speak very slightly later than his peers, but only by a couple of months and once he got going he never shut up smile

TheMightyLois Sat 02-Feb-13 22:00:15

Oh, and once they're older you can use the signing across a room/playground to talk to them without having to shout. It makes you look like you have magic powers wink

JudithOfThePeace Sat 02-Feb-13 22:04:45

I have done baby signing with both of mine, and I think it was wonderful for their language development, our communication and our relationship with each other. It really was one of the highlights of the 6-18 month period with both of them!

The success and enjoyment of it, like all baby classes to be fair, is down to the person running it. The woman that ran our classes was superb. I imagine that with a shite teacher, it would be as tedious as any other!! So go for a taster session if you can.

CelticPromise Sat 02-Feb-13 22:06:17

I thought it was brilliant. My DS was extremely premature and had a rough ride, and has been a bit slow to develop in lots of ways. He was late to speak and signing helped him to communicate and stopped him getting frustrated. He also went to speech therapy groups and they used signing there, I'm sure they wouldn't if it caused problems.

TheMightyLois Sat 02-Feb-13 22:09:53

We didn't do baby classes btw. We watched Something Special every day, and I watched the odd You Tube clip for new words. Tbh, some of the signs we made up too - had a very funny one for granddad smile

MrsCF Sat 02-Feb-13 22:10:20

I used baby signing with both my children. We signed from about six months and they both did their first signs at about 12 months. It was great to know what they were thinking/wanted. The first indication to me that it was the right thing to do was when my 12 month old daughter walked to the bottom of the stairs and signed bed, she then went to bed and did not complain once - perfect.
My daughter started talking at 18 months and gradually dropped the signs as she became more confident in talking. My son was later to talk which made the signing all the more useful because at least we had some form of communication.
I would definately recommend it even if you use minimal signs, yes, no, more, all done, please, thank you, bye bye are our most used signs. The animal signs are all good fun and nice and easy to learn.

VinegarDrinker Sat 02-Feb-13 22:14:17

I looked into it but decided we wouldn't be able to commit properly to it (DS is looked after by a combination of me/DH/DM/MiL/nursery) so never took it further.

Regardless, DS's speech is pretty advanced, he had clear words from 9m and hundreds of words, including all colours and numbers up to 10 before 18 months. He isn't 2 yet but has a huge vocabulary and has been speaking fluently in understandable sentences for ages.

It is incredibly rare that we don't understand him (maybe once a fortnight? For a child that talks constantly...). He doesn't do tantrums (although, as I said he's not yet 2 so watch this space....!).

I'm not saying this to brag but to say not all "early"/fluent talkers are due to signing. Of course it is impossible to say what any child would have been like with/without it.

I certainly don't think you'd have anything to lose by trying it though. If nothing else it's a fun class!

golemmings Sat 02-Feb-13 22:21:16

I did sing and sign with dd and u do a bit of signing with DS but he & I have never been to classes
Dd learned to sign and talk simultaneously at about 11mo. By 16mo she had over 70 words and had pretty much stopped signing.
At 16mo, DS has learned the sign for duck from something special and has 2 words. There's a bit of me that wonders if we'd dine a class it would have helped his communication since if its just me and him he gets very distracted but engages well in a class environment.

LadyHel Sun 03-Feb-13 11:03:12

My DS2 didn't really speak at all at the age of 15 months. His brother had started talking at 11 months (without signing) so I was convinced that there was a problem (!) and signed up to signing classes to see if it would help DS2's development. I had thought that it might be a bit of a waste of time as all the other toddlers there had been to the classes since they were about 7 months old. It was brilliant. He is now 2 yo and can communicate most things that he wants to say by either saying the word or signing (or both!). The other day we were at a playgroup and a friend's 4yo was doing a wooden jigsaw with him. DS2 was saying all the words for the pictures in the jigsaw... teddy, ball, apple, sunshine etc. The 4yo said to me "Why does he know all the words?". She has a younger sibling the same age as DS2 so I was chuffed to bits.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend signing classes. Some are better than others and the class we attended was fantastic. It's the one with Jessie Cat!

beccala Tue 05-Feb-13 21:17:26

Thank you all for the replies, it's very reassuring and I think I probably will try it - especially as TheMightyLois says it gives you magic powers which I love!

TheMightyLois Tue 05-Feb-13 22:26:54


wangle99 Wed 06-Feb-13 15:55:09

Haven't read other messages but I signed with DS, he signed back from about 11 months old and used signs for ages (in fact will still use them now when I'm on the phone lol (and he's 9!). I went on to teach for one of the franchises but haven't done that for ages.

I found it really useful that DS was able to sign when things were bothering him, specifically one day he wouldn't eat spaghetti - he 'told' me they were 'worms' lol and another time he was able to tell me he hurt his ankle. If I had another baby I would definately sign again with them.

DS nursery teacher said she had never seen a child his age with such verbal skills and being able to express himself which she put down to signing. I don't know how truthful that is but it certainly didn't do him any harm!

ellesabe Wed 06-Feb-13 22:50:15

I did makaton with my dd from about 14mo. I too was concerned about the possibility of it delaying her spoken language but in fact we saw the opposite. Her first words were all of the words she could sign smile

ThreeWheelsGood Thu 07-Feb-13 15:41:01

This is a great thread, I'm considering signing too. LadyLech how did you/your baby learn? Was it classes, self taught, ...?

rockinhippy Thu 07-Feb-13 15:46:39

We signed with DD & she was a very early speaker, so no, from that I would say it helps speech, not hinders, we didn't bother with courses though, there's plenty of info on the Internet for the basic signs, we just used that - it was a godsend, no tantrums, she knew we understood her, which made for a generally very happy baby - it helped her tell us when she was ill & in pain too - though try telling that to a GP

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