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Anyone used baby sign language?

(31 Posts)
KnitKnitPurl Thu 30-Apr-15 15:25:11

DS is almost 9 mo, and is like to teach him a few basic signs. I've read a few things that have said it's a good way for babies to be able to communicate, and it's very effective and can promote speech development. DH isn't so keen, as he has a friend who took her daughter to signing classes and felt that it delayed her speech.

I said I'd do some more research, and ask for some opinions as well. So has anyone tried it, and what did you think?


Allstoppedup Thu 30-Apr-15 15:31:47

We've done it with DS since he was 6 months.

He has over 50 signs now and it's absolutely great. He very rarely cries/gets upset without signing what the matter is at the same time so it's been super. He's 16 months now and uses both words and signs.

It's been really funny and interesting to watch him learn and all the family, including grandparents are in on it. We always get people interested and asking questions about it to.

I'd definitely recommend it.

We did 4 terms of Tiny Talk and then got Makaton print outs.

It can feel a bit silly and futile at the start but all of a sudden it just clicks and they pick up lots very quickly. I do it so naturally now I get surprised when I realise DS has learnt a new one!grin

Heels99 Thu 30-Apr-15 15:33:27

Didn't bother I would rather they Learned to talk than found a way of communicating without talking. Both mine were early talkers though.

Allstoppedup Thu 30-Apr-15 15:33:38

For what it's worth, research shows that it doesn't delay speech at all but it doesn't necessarily aid speech development either.

The best thing about it we have found is how it's helped minimize communication frustration.

KnitKnitPurl Thu 30-Apr-15 15:37:09

Yes, I think minimising frustration is one of my main goals. I have a nephew who's a late talker, and I see him get very frustrated when he can't explain what he wants. No idea whether DS will talk soon or not, but I figured it couldn't hurt to teach him a few bits of sign.

Allstoppedup Thu 30-Apr-15 15:49:36

If he turns out to be an early talker it's something you can always drop.

I don't know if my DS would be talking in full sentences without it grin but I doubt it. He's been saying words from about 12 monthsish and lots of the words he says are ones he also signs but I can honestly say there is rarely a day when he gets annoyed or can't get across what he wants.

The most important thing is to be consistent with it and make sure you always say the word as you sign it. That way they are repeatedly hearing the word too. grin

LissieD Thu 30-Apr-15 19:13:30

We did baby sign with my dd and it was great. She didn't get frustrated and could let us know what she wanted. Also it was just really fun and cute, especially when she made up her own signs. She hardly said any real words until about 2 though and I was starting to worry, but at about 2.2 she suddenly started talking and her language exploded. Now at 2.6 she speaks in full sentences and we have long complex conversations. She's completely stopped signing.

LissieD Thu 30-Apr-15 19:14:24

We didn't go to classes by the way. I just used a book.

FaFoutis Thu 30-Apr-15 19:18:54

My daughter was a late talker so I took her to baby signing. She made up her own signs, it was very funny. It helped her to communicate for a while so it was good.
In the classes we had to sit in a circle and sings songs while signing, it was a bit painful if you are not into that type of thing.

Lovelise Thu 30-Apr-15 19:19:35

We went to classes. DDs first sign was milk, she has quite a few now at 12 months.

I really enjoyed learning the signs as well. I would say just give it a try and if you dont like dont go again.

Grandparents like doing the signs with her and she looks so cute so!

AbbeyRoadCrossing Thu 30-Apr-15 19:21:39

Makaton which is for learning disabled adults is a good one and basic signs like milk, more and finished are easy and useful for babies.
The delaying speech research has been discredited. As long as you talk when signing it is fine e.g. sign 'more' and say 'would you like more' at the same time. Don't use signs in silence as chatting away helps speech development.
The speech delay research was mostly done with SEN children who were speech delayed anyway, hence them learning the Makaton in the first place

We did. DD initiated it - she learned a sign from Mr Tumble & within a week she'd learned about 6 more. We had no experience of signing at all & hadn't thought about it.
We don't think it affected her speech development - she was/is normal in this regard. She still signs though aged 3, & now knows dozens (hundreds?) of Makaton signs. She sometimes emphasises with them, eg if she can't find the right word or is really eager or cross about something.
Oddly, she was also an early reader - learned her first numbers at 20 months & letters around 22 months (again this was entirely unprompted by us). We wonder if it was related to the signing.

KnitKnitPurl Thu 30-Apr-15 21:42:11

Thanks for all the responses so far - really interesting! I'd be planning on teaching him myself using a book (and I'm guessing there'll be videos somewhere on YouTube) - can't find any classes close to us. I'd prefer him to learn signs that he could use later if he was communicating with someone who was deaf - are there different types of sign language?

bakingtins Fri 01-May-15 07:43:32

Most baby signing uses Makaton, which was designed for children/ adults with SN. The deaf community are more likely to use British Sign Language.
With a baby you are really only going to want simple first word signs, they will never need to communicate complicated concepts with it. Makaton is much more 'instinctive' e.g. The sign for 'milk' is like squeezing an udder, 'no' is like a 'stop' hand gesture.
Try Something Special/Mr Tumble on the CBeebies site.
I went to Sing and Sign with my oldest DS,now 8 and used signs at home with my younger one. Now back at classes with DD who has developmental delay. My sister is a SALT and uses signing with her patients, and with her own children.
Always say the word, only use one sign in a sentence to emphasise the important word, be consistent in your signs but accept any approximation from your baby.

PurpleAlert Fri 01-May-15 08:07:32

Yes there are different sign systems and I was about to come on here and recommend that you use BSL signs. Obviously BSL proper has it's own structure and grammar but you can use the individual signs in english word order. As another poster said- Makaton is a communication system which was devised for children/ people with learning disabilities (although some of the signs are similar to BSL vocabulary)

I work with hearing impaired children so use alot of sign both BSL and SSE (BSL signs in english word order) and far from delaying their speech I feel it helps to support their language and speech development.

kimistayingalive Fri 01-May-15 09:30:02

British sign language has dialects too so some signs can vary in areas\counties. But the basics are easy. I use it at a basic level with my DS although to a lesser extent as he prefers talking.
But there's makaton which has many similar or same signs as BSL.
One thing I found as well BSL tends to use two hands for many signs.
There is also American sign language a d what I've seen of that is more one handed usage.

AnythingNotEverything Fri 01-May-15 09:41:21

We went to a class based on BSL, but also picked up bits of Makaton through Baby Sensory and Something Special.

At 13 months DD was putting signs together to make sentences (sign for hungry, pointing to kitchen) and at 18 months now has 50-60 clear words and is putting them into verbal (short) sentences.

We started with more, milk, and hungry and recently, despite having not seen us use the sign for months, she's independently starting signing "cake" which she can't say clearly yet. It's really odd how it's stuck in her brain all this time, just waiting for her to get the dexterity to do it (and to have cake in view that she wants!).

I really feel it has helped reduce frustration, and I'll do it again with our next baby.

AmyElliotDunne Fri 01-May-15 09:42:41

I did it with all of my DCs and it was great for helping them communicate. To have a one year old who can sign what's going on in their mind is a brilliant window into their world!

Ds1 was quite a late talker, not really speaking much before 2, but dd was having proper verbal conversations at 18 months, so it didn't delay her at all.

Things I remember...

DS2 sitting in a bubbly bath signing "it's not milk, it's water" to himself, obviously trying to make sense of why it was white!

Dd looking out of the window while it was snowing and signing "milk" with a look of wonder on her face, then seeing a little snowman in the garden and signing "milk cat". So sweet.

Ds1 signing "shaving phone" as he dad was putting foam on his face and "train" as he walked past a chain fence in someone's front garden. These were both handy for realising that he heard foam/phone or chain/train as the same words so we were able to speak more clearly for him.

anotherdayanothersquabble Fri 01-May-15 11:37:25

I signed with all three children and each of them engaged with it in their own way which was also influenced by what else was going on around them.

My eldest had glue ear and at times could hear practically nothing but you could never tell from his speech. With him, signing gave me a real insight into what he was thinking / engaging with before he spoke in a way that I would not have otherwise experienced. It was eye opening. His speech happened in line with expectations despite his hearing loss.

My middle child was born knowing everything and while she did sign a little, it wasn't a big thing for her.

My youngest did have a slight speech delay. He did sign, made up his own signs and abbreviated them. You had to know what he meant by a specific flick of the hand. When he started to speak, signs helped distinguish between Raa Raa (dinosaur) Roo Raa (Car) and Raa (lion). My sister is a SALT and while she did assess his speech as delayed, she was able to assess his communication skills as signing allowed him to communicate clearly. Once he started speaking, within weeks I remember a consultant commenting on how advanced his speech was.

I went to a number of different classes (sing and sign, tiny talk and singing hands) due to moving house between children and would highly recommend the Singing Hands CDs and book set.

KnitKnitPurl Fri 01-May-15 22:12:09

Thanks for those responses; very helpful. I'll talk to DH over the weekend, I think, and maybe show him the thread. Hopefully he'll be happy enough to give it a go.

squiz81 Fri 01-May-15 22:14:27

I did with ds1, we watched something special and he learnt some makaton, he then went on to make up a lot of his own signs. He had so many and could communicate well with us. He didn't talk until he was 2.5, so the signs were a great help. Some people blamed the sign language for the speech delay, but I don't agree, he never babbled as a baby and my husband was a late talker.

bizarrely, as soon as he learnt to talk he forgot all of his signs

Asleeponasunbeam Sat 02-May-15 08:14:27

Amyelliot, your examples are adorable! I love the way you can see more about how they think at such an early age.

I signed with both of mine and used makaton as I knew it anyway. Essential to talk at the same time. DD had 200 signs at 15 months, then dropped them one by one as she learned to say the words. Interestingly she went immediately from signs to two and three word phrases - missed out single word speech altogether. She couldn't remember any signs when she started school and they use makaton in her class to support some peers.

DS didn't sign so much but was talking earlier. He also had a terrible fear of Mr Tumble!

NotCitrus Sat 02-May-15 09:07:04

Makaton signs are taken from BSL, but with some extra clarifiers rather than the spatial/directional BSL grammar. Signers who know English tend to use SSE which is BSL signs with more English grammar and generally one sign at a time. Learners of BSL end up doing more SSE and so there's a spectrum from baby signs/Makaton to idiomatic BSL.

I use a fair bit of SSE at home and did a couple years of baby sign classes with each child, mostly for fun and practise for me - it helped me get better at producing signs, as I used to find Mr Tumble too hard to copy.

Ds used a couple signs and words, then round 19 months exploded with hundreds of words and signs. He used signs to emphasis his words for a couple years - with me being deaf it really helped me understand toddler speech!

Dd used the sign MILK from about 9 months which was helpful, but as she talked well earlier never signed that much, but as a fun movement class it was good. And I do sign to tell her off, or to communicate in noisy places.

I've forgotten most of my non-child-related vocabulary but did manage to interpret train delay info to a chap recently.

KnitKnitPurl Sat 02-May-15 14:39:15

Had a chat with DH there, and we've agreed to give it a go! So now I need to learn some signs. smile

AradiaQueenWitch Sat 02-May-15 19:31:00

I have with all 3 of mine. It's brilliant, amazing to see what is going on in their little heads. With my first (13 years ago!) I found a couple of websites but with my youngest two I have used a brilliant little app for my iPhone with loads of common words and videos of someone demonstrating them. There are also videos of babies signing which is lovely. My DD started with milk, more, finished and bird. I can't speak highly enough of it, it cuts down on frustration immensely.

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