Baby signing - helpful or a load of codswallop?(34 Posts)
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?
I have never really been interested to try with my boys (5yo and 9m). My eldest has always been a good speaker (although I can't remember when he spoke his first word). And I think I can mostly tell well enough what his younger brother wants without signing.
I suspect that most parents who take their children to signing lessons are pretty engaged with their children and would be doing all sorts of other things that will help with their communication skills anyway - talking about what they're doing, reading stories etc.
The window of time it provides a bridge between 'not being able to communicate' and 'being able to talk' seems relatively short in the greater scheme of things. If you enjoy the classes then brilliant but I wouldn't do it just for the signing.
My baby and I go to a 'baby sensory' class which we both enjoy very much. Lots of music and props and lights etc. The teacher does some signing but it's not an essential to the class and I've never done any at home.
That's my two pennorth anyway!
I did sign classes with DD for quite a while. She never did many of the signs but was a good talker so had no need. But it was a fun and gentle way of having some fun and communicating. She liked the songs. If she is feeling shy now she will still do the sign for thank you rather than say the word.
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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.
Try a local session, all groups are different and use different signing structures and incorporate different elements. So its worth asking them what they use and trying more than one if you can - ask if they do a 1 off taster.
I signed with all of mine and found it brilliant for easing their frustration before they could speak. DS1 obvs got the most attention and signed almost exclusively from 9 mo to well over 2 years before the spoken word took over.
We used a video based on American SL which apparently has simpler signs than makaton, so not as useful in an ongoing sense, but just for babies it was great.
The others used a few signs (milk, more, apple, bird, the basics) and I still cherish the little insights into the workings of their mind!
DS2 was sat in the bath playing with the white bubbles and signed to himself "not milk, water".
DD watched the snow falling outside and looked at the mini snowman DS had built, signing "milk cat"!
Obviously milk featured quite heavily
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Love it love it! DD is 2 next week, and has been doing sing and sign since 5.5 months. We keep trying to give up but never seem to manage - she loves the classes, the teacher is amazing, and it's a lovely bunch of mums and kids. We also watch both DVDs regularly and a Xmas one at my mum's house gets anregulat airing too!
She started saying words at about th same time she started signing - about 10 months, and it all suddenly kicked off at about 13 months. By 14 months her vocab was well over 100 words. I don't sign any more other than to remind her silently to say please and thank you, but she still signs while she speaks, especially if I'm not understanding her for some reason, so it's still useful for her.
I think it was helpful to start around 6 months because it takes some practice but be aware you won't see many signs back til about 12-13 months on average.
If you don't fancy the classes there's a book on it I'd recommend by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn (actually I recommend all their books).
And we still use the sign for toilet when we are in public, and shes 10 now.
I started with DD because she was getting extremely frustrated. It eased it a little (prob would have been better if I started earlier - I started at around 8 months, she did it to actually tell me stuff by around 9.5 months)
She spoke reasonably early too, so it didnt appear to hold her back.
Gloucester your dd is still so little! We didn't even start signing until 14mo...
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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. Didn't affect her speech at all, she had about 50 words at 15 months.
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
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 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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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