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Baby sign language

(37 Posts)
DissLocated Fri 17-Dec-04 12:26:50

We've been signing to dd for a couple of months, she is now 8mo. Not had any signs back yet but she definately understands them, opens her mouth like a fish when we make the food sign! We're hoping that once she gets a bit more dextrous (she's not waving or clapping yet) we'll see a few signs.

What are other people's experiences? Did you introduce a few signs at a time? (we're just doing milk and food) Or go for lots? How long did it take before your baby made signs back to you?

She goes to nursery 3 days per week and the staff don't sign to her, despite me asking several times! Do you think this will delay her use of signs??

SantaClausfrau Fri 17-Dec-04 12:36:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bunnyrabbit Fri 17-Dec-04 13:53:40

I heard about baby signing for the first time on mumsnet the other day. Never heard of it before.

Do you have any information on it? I assume it's too late for DS (15mnths) but I'm stil interested. Do you know of any websites/books on the subject?



sharon2133 Fri 17-Dec-04 19:19:49

15 months isn't too old. We use sign language with our 8 month old son, not had any signs back yet but we've been told not to expect anything for several weeks yet. We're just trying food & milk at the moment. Type in "Sign with your Baby" in a search engine & you'll get info on sign language by Dr. Garcia. It's excellent. Good luck.

MarsselectionboxLady Fri 17-Dec-04 19:25:20

Currently doing it with the DTs. They can sign for milk and to eat. We've been signing to them for about 2.5 months. We started with milk, eat and more. We are about to introduce new signs. Water, brother, sister. It's great fun and all my friends and family laugh at us, but we'll see who has the last laugh.

xmashampermunker Fri 17-Dec-04 19:26:28

How old are your DTs, MarsLady?

MarsselectionboxLady Fri 17-Dec-04 19:26:57

10 months.

xmashampermunker Fri 17-Dec-04 19:41:00

Just wondered because DS is 8 months and we're signing (more, food, milk, drink - to mean water - don't want him knowing there's anything other than water for as long as I can!) - just wondered how long you'd been doing it and whether they're signing back? Think your DS may teach them the sign for 'football genius'

mckenzie Fri 17-Dec-04 20:01:45

Tiny Talk UK run groups in Enfield if any of you are interested. I've met the lady who runs them a few times and I shall certainly be taking my No2 there when he/she is old enough. She runs it as a drop in group with music as well. I've heard lots of good things about it.

MarsselectionboxLady Fri 17-Dec-04 20:05:39

DS1 can't wait to teach them big brother and I will do whatever you want. DD1 and DD2 can't wait for them to walk so that they can teach them to sign I'll get it for you, don't you move a muscle lol. I think that we should start to get more signs from them within the next few months. It's a case of a patience. DH gets a bit bored by the whole thing, but as he likes sleeping next to me he's continuing on.

DissLocated Sat 18-Dec-04 11:24:06

I've got the Dr Garcia video, got it from NCT catalogue I think, it's amazing to see how well really tiny babies can communicate - can't wait for dd to start signing to us.

bluemoon Sat 18-Dec-04 21:34:51

Sorry, but can I just ask you all the reason why you're all so mad on this signing? I went to a class with dd at around 6 months as I was very interested and my friend with a same age dd went too. I'd have liked to do it but dp was dead against it, worrying that it would interfere with language acquisition. As it turns out we didn't do it at all and dd was already saying words for things like more / milk / drink etc. whereas my friend's dd started to sign for them at the same time and didn't start speaking until over 18 months. This may be coincidence but I can't help but wonder why signing for something at 10 months is better than asking for it even if the language is very rudimentary?

Rarrie Sun 19-Dec-04 01:19:28

Okay, if you want to know why we sign... here are a few reasons!

1. My DD is 13 months old, she has over 40 words (8 spoken and over 30 signed). I do not know of any other baby who at 13 months can communicate at the same level as my DD can!!!

2. It makes life so much easier... if she ever wakes at night, we simply ask her what is wrong. She can sign pain, nappy change, light, drink etc. We give her what she is asking for and she goes straight back to sleep! Equally in the day, she can ask to have a drink, for me to read her a book, when she tired, she signs and we put her to bed, if we're out and she's fed up, she signs home, if she's got a pain, she signs and I give her a teething sachet... there's no guess work, she tells me everything!

3. I have a much better relationship with her... I know my daughter much better since she has been signing. For example, I never knew before she could sign that she was scared of the dark... but now she quite often cries in the dark and signs light, so I know what she wants... and I have to ask, how many non sgning mothers of 13 month olds would know what their child was afraid of??? She can also show me the things she is interested in (washing machines, ceiling fans and clocks! - words she could never say), when we're reading books together, she takes a very active role, pointing out the things she's fascinated by, signing if she knows the sign and asking for the sign if not!

4. She has an enhanced vocab! None of my friends sign, and their baby's language is no patch on my DDs. Not even their spoken language... Eloise is able to communicate all her needs and interests. She is even starting to combine words to make mini sentences. For example, the other day she combined duck and bath to say duck pond! I do not know of any other 13 month old who can combine words in spoken language!!

5. She can learn new signs really quickly... much easier than learning spoken words. On average she learns a new word every other day, sometimes even quicker.. for example the other day she asked me for the sign for frog when she was being dried (after her bath). I showed her and by the time she was dressed, she knew the sign and was signing it back to me!

6. Studies and research have shown that baby signs increase child intelligence and vocab. The cerebal cortex is being developed at a much earlier age.. all studies into babies that sign show them to have enhanced scores on IQ tests at age 5 and 7. They have also been shown to have larger vocabularies at age 3. Although they might take slightly longer to translate some words from sign into spoken, when they do so, theire vocabs are larger. When you factor in that other studies show the greatest indicator of adult intelligence to be the extent of a child's vocab at around ages 3 and 4... you can rest assure that you are actually developing your child's IQ by signing!!!

I probably sound very evangelical about it all, but it is no exaggeration to say that it has completely enhanced my relationship with my daughter to such a degree, that I personally cannot understand why anyone would not choose to have such a relationship with their child! Even my Mother In Law, has said that she takes back all of her scepticism about it all!!!

And back to the original question... I originally started signing water and food at 6 months. By 7 months, she was signing water back (believe me, a godsend over the hot summer!!) but that was it. Once she started pointing, I then started signing things that she was interested in - dog, clock etc. She learnt those within a month. Over the past four or five weeks, she has gone from having half a dozen signs to over forty... on average she gains a new sign every other day!! Sometimes it is hard keeping up with her! But as I say, it has totally enhanced our relatioship... that we now interact on a way that was never possible before... she can ask for things, tell me what games she wants to play, whether she wants to read a book, or play with toys... whether she needs a nappy change etc. She now says I'm tired, please put me to bed... it now feels less like I do things to her but more that I do things with her. I can honestly say that she is much happier too... she can ask for what she needs, whether it is a teething sachet, a nappy change or a snack, she can ask for a cuddle, or the light to go on... I would whole heartedly recommend baby signing - its hard work and takes a lot od patience (I went for 6 months without her signing back), but the joy of your child sharing something that excites them with you, well it is a joy that I wouldn't have wanted to have waithed another 6 months for until she could have vocalised it! So keep going and your l.o. will get there!!!

kinderbobsleigh Sun 19-Dec-04 02:01:45

My ds understood several signs, though he hardly used any of them. He did use his lion sign one day to show me a pile of autumn leaves, which I thought was quite sweet, and not something we would have understood from his limited language at the time.

We found that ds would watch us do the sign and then he would simply say the word. When he knew a word we introduced the next sign - same story - he would say the word, or make the noise if it was an animal.

But it was useful as several words sound very similar (flower and flour for instance). If similar words can "look" different it must be helpful.

He now makes no signs, just says the words. Won't even wave since he learnt "bye bye".

If you want the nursery staff to join in start using the "all gone" sign. I found Bob really got the hang of the idea of "all gone" and will now willingly give stuff, leave the park etc. if we say "all gone" (sign long since abandoned). In other words, this will make their life easier and so they may be more likely to do it.

Cinderellascarrieg Sun 19-Dec-04 02:10:03

I'm fascinated by this idea - dh does a bit of Makaton because he works with adults with learning difficulties. Can anyone recommend a Makaton-compatible video or class to start us off?

bluemoon Sun 19-Dec-04 20:52:33

Rarrie, that's an amazing experience you have and I'm glad it's worked so well for you. However, I was just looking back over dd's language diary and she had about 50 'words' by the age of 14 months. I think she's quite gifted with language. While my friend's dd didn't actually start signing until about 18 months which is also the same time she started talking. I wonder if your dd did so well because she's a gifted communicator like my dd. Sorry, I'm not completely antagonistic to signing I'm still not convinced about the real benefits of it.

Colinsawmommykissingsantaclaus Sun 19-Dec-04 21:16:52

Bluemoon, there is a good article on babysign here that I think does a good job reflecting the thinking of the medical community on baby signing, that while signing often helps with language and IQ development, it doesn't make your baby a superbaby, but research indicates it doesn't delay language development. I

really like using signing with Colin, because when he was younger (10 mo. or so) he could sign words that he couldn't say, and that headed off a lot of crying and frustration, because he was able to express what he wanted. It has also made him understand the concept of sentences, because when he signs, he puts multiple words together at a time, such as when he wants food, he signs more, please, eat. I really like now (15 mo) that he already has the concept of manners, signing please and thank you when requesting things most of the time (although certainly not all of the time.) I find it interesting that while he doesn't have an astounding vocabulary for his age, according to his pediatrician, he has a larger one than most babies his age, and most of the words he says are those that he has learned how to sign.

bluemoon Sun 19-Dec-04 21:26:22

My dd was also saying please and thank you at about 15 months.

I don't understand then is signing generally thought to mean that children communicate more quickly than they do by using verbal language? Or is it that it gives them a different method of communicating? If the former then there is a hint of a 'superbaby' about it, i.e. can get things across that another non-signing child can't. If the latter, then what's the point unless there's deafness or bilingualism in the family?

I'm still not being antagonistic, I'm just curious!

bluemoon Sun 19-Dec-04 21:27:59

Also wanted to say in response to colinsawmummy... 's post that language doesn't really stop crying and upset does it? I remember that was one of the selling points of signing when I went on the course. But dd is a fab verbal talker and she still has all kinds of frustrations about all kinds of things despite the fact she can tell me about them.

bluemoon Sun 19-Dec-04 21:29:49

Gosh, I'm going to shut up in a minute! But in relation to someone else's comment earlier about their child being able to 'say' by signs that they were feeling ill at a very young age. Well, I find that slightly remarkable because my dd now at 2.3 with a very large spoken vocabulary can't really tell me what's wrong. She can say she feels 'poorly' etc. but my GP says that children under 3 find it very difficult to describe their physical sensations even if they are good talkers.

Colinsawmommykissingsantaclaus Sun 19-Dec-04 21:52:35

Your daughter must be at a highly advanced language level, then, because saying those words at 18 months is still considered pretty difficult for many children, so you must not be used to the vocabulary of an "average" child, then, so baby sign must be a waste of time in your book then.

For me, the highest benefit came at an earlier age(around 10 mo), when Colin could get across concepts through signing, that he was unable to with language. It was much nicer to have him sign "more eat" than to just have him cry in frustration and not know what he wanted.

I guess you could also apply the theory that there are cognitive/linguistic benefits in having a child learn a second language, like sign language. Supposedly learning another language while young. helps with problem solving abilities, and helps with reasoning skills, etc. And I guess if they want to learn a 3rd or more language, it helps them to pick it up faster.

Personally, I do it with Colin, because I just like the idea of opening up other languages/means of communication to him. I think it is nothing but a benefit in today's world to know another language than your own, and I don't think it is a waste of time to learn something about other languages, just because our family doesn't speak them. Its a great way to open yourself up to other cultures and ways of life, even if you don't "need" to learn other languages.

That being said, I am doing sign with Colin, because I think it has definitely helped, and because I have a cousin who is deaf.

fee77 Mon 20-Dec-04 17:10:34

I go to a Tiny Talk class in Loughton and really enjoy it. It is not just about signing, they sing loads of songs and have chance to play. After 3mths my DD (14mths) has just started to sign "milk". I am quite lazy about doing the signs but think this is really cool.. I now have the buzz for teaching her more. As DD had meningitis ther is a risk of deafness so at least we will be off to a good start.

Rarrie Mon 20-Dec-04 17:25:01

In answer to your question blue moon, I think the benefits of baby sign is that it allows them to say words they could not say verbally. To explain, I have not bothered to teach the signs for simple words like mama, dada, baba etc beacuse dd can say them. However, I have taught her signs for words she couldn't say in a month of sundays, like washing machine, ceiling fan, windmill and chickens or other things she likes to see! Personally, I feel that baby sign should supplement verbal language... but for me it is not about making her a superbaby or anythging like that, but it is about making her happier.
To give you an example, dd knows the signs windmill, book, and various other toys. If she wants a specific toy to play with, she can sign that toy, we do not have to rely on guesswork and pointing! So she gets less fustrated and we have a clearer idea of what she wants. After all, she could never verbally ask for a windmill... her vocab is nowhere near that good yet. The two work together in my eyes!

Secondly, as for the pain thing... no she can't say where the pain is... but she can say pain. Add in a bit of commonsense (if she's teething, a sachet, if she's hot some calpol etc!) and we can work it out quite quickly. I do find that you generally know when they're unwell, but I have found it very helpful when she's teething, as its very difficult to know otherwise.

Finally, just a little example from today... We had a big trip out Xmas shopping... On our route we came across some fish. DD saw them (I didn't)and signed fish so I took her over to see them. We stopped for a few minutes whilst she looked at the fish. Meanwhile, I saw a baby slightly older than DD being pushed by, who was pointing at the fish and whinging. Mum was oblivious to what it was her dd wanted and tried to pacify her but kept on walking. Baby kept on whinging out of sight. I felt so sorry for that little girl... she wanted to see the fish, but mum didn't know what it was her dd wanted and so the little girl missed out. DD had a further three visits to the fish, all because she could sign rather than just point!

And finally, no signing is not the be all and end all answer to all of your problems, but I don't think it pretends to be. However, if you read any toddler books, whenever they mention toddler tantrums, they all say that often some tantrums are connected to a child's inability to communicate sufficiently for their needs and desires. If signing can help reduce just those tantrums by say 10%, then that's 10% my life is happier and that of my DD! I don't anticipate that it will stop all tantrums... if now is anything to go by, she'll be quite a madam, but I am hoping that it may ease some of the fustration that so many toddlers at that age feel (and boy I know this as I have a friend who's child was a head banger, wooden floors the lot. When she took him to the HV about it, she was told there it was beacuse he did have quite limited language skills and was getting fustrated!) So If I can do anything to help me avoid just some of that I will!

And thus ends another thesis ;-)

DingleAlltheWay Mon 20-Dec-04 17:32:55

I hope you don't mind me "popping in!"
I only have good to say about signing. My dd is just over 3 and had Down Syndrome. I started using sign with her when she was a few weeks old, and when she was about 6 months old I managed to get on a Signalong course. My dd did have a moderate hearing loss at the time, which has been Ok every since (touch wood!)But with DS, communication & speech is usually delayed and I certainly didn't want a frustrated little girl, who had no way of communicating, on my hands.
She now has a signing vocabulary of about 150 words. Her speech is slowly improving but I cannot imagine what it would have been like without sign.
I really feel that it would be a good thing for all children to be familiar with sign.It is not just children with "special needs" that may have communication problems and it is also a way of breaking down the barriers between disability. If children grow up to recognise sign they just take it in their stride when they come accross it rather than think that it is something "different" and why is X doing it!
Sorry to rant, but I cannot stress to you how important sign has been in our lives since dd was born.

Newbarnsleygirl Mon 20-Dec-04 17:34:15

I have been thinking about doing sign for a while and I have to say Rarrie you have inspired and encouraged me to actually do it. Today I ordered a couple of books to help but I was amazed by what your dd can do. I think it's fantastic. My dd is 14 months and she becomes incredibly frustrated because she wants to let me know something and she can't tell me. To be honest I think it will be a while before she can say some words but I really hope baby sign will help. This thread has been very helpful!

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