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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.

BabySigningCharlie Sun 30-Jun-13 12:01:06

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.

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.

As someone mentioned above 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. So it’s worth asking them what they use and trying more than one if you can.

TinyTalkCharlie Sat 29-Jun-13 17:20:50

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

FreyaKItty Tue 12-Feb-13 09:22:20

I only taught dd the sign for milk. I remember her frantically signing it while on the altar at her christening (she had just turned 1 and I was still breadtfeeding). So glad she wasn't shouting boobies or something similar in earshot of the priest.

Emsyboo Sun 10-Feb-13 13:33:21

I do baby sign language with DS which has been invaluable as he has had some speech problems no one else in his class has problems and he can communicate fine. I asked the speech therapist if the signing would be slowing him down ( in his case) but they said it was great we just have to make sure we use words with the signs which we do.
I love the classes and so does DS and I agree it helps turn taking and conversation skills my DS yabbers away just has problems with pronunciation.
Good luck with your pregnancy x

sashh Fri 08-Feb-13 07:27:06

DD found them too difficult to use

That's normal, deaf children struggle with some signs because they just don't have the dexterity.

So one sign for mother (there are a few) uses three fingers of one hand on the other palm, but babies and toddlers use all fingers because they can't do three.

I'd just like to add that it is useful in other situations such as when I went to visit a friend who is a BSL/English interpreter and she was upstairs vacuuming and couldn't hear the door bell.

I could sign through the window to 3 year old to go fetch mummy.

Ps, we signed from 3-4 months, very early according to this thread

No such thing as too early. Deaf parents and interpreters sign to their children from birth, it is no different to talking to them.

There will not be an immediate response because they can't see very well and have no control over their movements but you wouldn't not talk to your child for 6 months would you?

rockinhippy Thu 07-Feb-13 20:30:53

THIS looks similar if not the same as we used with DD, honestly you don't need the courses unless you do it as a socialising thing -

start with 4 basic symbols, Food/eat - drink - pain - nappy - start using these as young as you like, but be consistent & always say the word too - as soon as your baby can muster the co-ordination to copy you, they will - you can then add - more - all done & keeping adding as you need to

Good luck

LadyLech Thu 07-Feb-13 18:39:13

threewheels - didn't do any courses, but self taught. Found some books that had specific baby sign (as opposed to deaf signs) and we used those. We started off on an American sign language based one, then we tried makaton, but DD found them too difficult to use, so we used the book "baby signs". It was by someone called Linda acropoleo or something?? It also had baby board books to go alongside, so DD and I would look at the books together and do the signs (but I suppose any board book would do the job). I found the key was to be consistent, and sign every time you speak. We started at 10 months. She was an avid signer by a year.

Also totally agree with the poster who said that 'pain' is the best sign to teach them - my daughter used to sign to ask for the teething sachets when she was teething, it was a god send!

twinklyfingers Thu 07-Feb-13 15:56:00

What lovely stories!

I would like to do this with dd who is 3mo just now but wonder when we should start? When do people recommend?

rockinhippy Thu 07-Feb-13 15:52:15

Ps, we signed from 3-4 months, very early according to this thread, but we were novices & had no clue what was " normal" - she picked it up easily at that age, as did a friends DD too at the same age too, more recently the same friends son is 4 months & he's just started too but like everything, they all differ so much, but no harm in trying early - I still remember the joy on DDs face when she realised she could ask for food, drink, or nappy change smile

MrsKwazii Thu 07-Feb-13 15:50:31

I did Sing and Sign with both of my girls and they were both early talkers after using signing for a while. I think it's great and would recommend it to anyone. My friends thought it was a bit woo and 'loud parenting' but it's horses for courses really grin

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

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, ...?

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

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!

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


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!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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