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Baby signing - does it work and is it worth the effort? Opinions please Mumsnetters!

(19 Posts)
StrawberrySam Fri 25-Sep-09 14:43:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RubyBlueberry Fri 25-Sep-09 14:49:32

I'm sure it works if you go on and on and on with it. Me and DD did it for 6 months when she was about 18 months and the only sign she would do was "milk"!

hairtwiddler Fri 25-Sep-09 14:52:05

It worked if the only goal was to get me out of the house..
DD had one sign - 'frog'. We never did them consistently with her though.

TheProvincialLady Fri 25-Sep-09 14:57:02

It worked brilliantly with DS1. He could communicate loads of things - milk, more, food, lots of different animals etc etc. He was a very chilled out little chap and never seemed to have a frustrated that he couldn't ask for what he wanted stage.

I have been signing milk to DS2 for about 3 or 4 weeks and the other day he signed it and was delighted to get some (he is just 9m), which has spurred me on to do more signs with him like I did with DS1.

Lawrene8 Fri 25-Sep-09 14:58:08


I did it with ds, although DH and I use BSL to talk to each other half the time. DS picked it up really well. he understood it a lot earlier (about 8 months) than he was able to sign back to us (about 18 months)

CokeFan Fri 25-Sep-09 15:06:24

I do TinyTalk with my DD (started at about 4 months, now just over 1 year). She does the milk sign (sometimes), claps and waves. That's about it so far but I know she understands lots of others (home, food, all gone, animals etc.).

I'd say the classes are more about something to do - getting out of the house etc. and it's really the repetition of doing the signs at home that makes an impact.

We have a dvd and some cards with the signs on them. Personally I find the dvd much more useful because the descriptions on the cards are quite hard to follow.

TinyTalk uses BSL but we've also done Baby Sensory and the signs they use are completely different (more limited) I think they are a combination of BSL, Makaton and American Sign Language. I don't think it matters what system you use, as long as you're consistent.

MrsVik Fri 25-Sep-09 15:07:10

I teach signing as part of a baby language course and it works IF you are consistent and really dedicated to it.

Like all things, kids will take the easiest path, and if you give in some of the time when you know what they want, but they haven't signed it, the child wont bother to sign.

You really need to take it seriously, or not bother, really. It definitely has some benefits, but not without hard work.

If you choose to do it, enjoy!

englishpatient Fri 25-Sep-09 15:11:26

My sister has taught her DD to sign (they go to Sing & Sign and use their DVD at home as well - sister is very dedicated) and it is brilliant.

My niece is now 19 months old and uses lots and lots of signs to communicate, but is also very vocal (I did wonder, when they began, if it might delay speech, but it certainly doesn't for DN).

I would thoroughly recommend it on the basis of DN.

mazzystartled Fri 25-Sep-09 15:15:22

We went to Tiny Talk classess (just sitting round and singing and a cup of tea after)asn DS loved it. Started signing at about 10 months, really helped from say 12 mo - 15 months, when the relentless chattering started - I truly think it saved a lot of tears.

DD on the other hand wasn't interested in the slightest, in the classes or the signing.

TheProvincialLady Fri 25-Sep-09 15:42:50

I don't know MrsVik, I wouldn't say I took it seriously. Maybe DS1 was particularly receptive but I never made him sign for anything or was even that consistent with it. And if I knew what my child wanted it wouldn't fuss me that he didn't use a specific sign because for me, it is just about commuication and not teaching a language. As soon as DS1 started talking he dropped all signing.

We did sing and sign classes for one term and I naively thought that was where the babies learned to signhmm Whereas actually it was really where the parents learned a few songs to entertain the children and for us to learn the signs to do at home. You certainly would not get a child signing just by doing a class a week and nothing in between. Maybe that is what you meant MrsVik?

cleanandclothed Fri 25-Sep-09 15:56:22

I do sing and sign with ds (12months). He has understood 'milk' for quite some time, less obvious which others he understands but there are quite a few. He hasn't started signing yet. I found it really helps with a couple of things - first I look for a reaction more than I would if I was just talking - because I chat all the time to him about everything under the sun, but sign when I want to get his attention more. The other thing is that (to start with) you use the same sign for everything to do with food (eg breakfast, lunch, dinner, banana, porridge) etc all have the same sign, which means that (I think) he learns that much more quickly than he would all the individual words.
Signs that he understands (I think) off the top of my head
Sit down
Brush teeth

iwantitnow Fri 25-Sep-09 15:58:43

Think it slowed my DD starting to speak although incredibly good verbally now. Will not be doing it with DS as a result.

BonjourIvresse Fri 25-Sep-09 17:40:53

I think the classes are bollocks but its worth teaching your baby some basic ones yourself

Karam Fri 25-Sep-09 19:43:48

Never bothered with the classes, but I bought some baby board books and read those to my Dds and I just made signing integral to my life. When I asked for milk, I would automatically sign milk. It took effort at first, but soon it becomes natural and you do it without thinking.

My DD took to it like duck to water. She soon developed an amazing vocabularly, and had loads of words, far beyond any speaking baby of her own age. I also found she was uninterested in learning signs like nappy, milk etc... but found that she learnt signs for things that she was interested in such as birds and washing machines etc.

I think the most amazing thing for us was at that age, she had recently started waking at night, and crying and we couldn't work out why. After a while she signed 'light'. we turned the light on and she stopped crying, turned the light off, and she started crying and signing light again. It then clicked that my 14 month old baby was telling me that she was afraid of the dark. After that, we left the light on at night and she never woke again after that!

I have quite a few stories like that, but I won't bore you. I would say that signing did stop her learning to walk and did slow down her initial speech, but by 2 she had over 500 words in her vocab (she took part in a university research project and I had to catalogue her words), which was over double the average for her age... so it certainly didn't harm her vocab in the medium term. In fact, by 2 she had totally stopped signing and almost all of her first words were words that she signed.
You do have to immerse yourself into signing, but if you do that it becomes second nature and so no longer an effort iyswim and then you really reap the benefits.

moondog Fri 25-Sep-09 19:51:18

It's whatever you want it to be -fun, a chance to get out of the house, a means of effective communication before speech develops.

I'm a SALT and also have a private sing/sign compnay. There is a lot of research to demonstrate that sign boosts language ability (it can be an absolute Godsend to kids with SN).

Catz Fri 25-Sep-09 19:59:17

We did sing and sign from about 7 months. At 9 months she started signing a few words and saying them pretty much at the same time. Clearly I don't know whether signing helped her to speak on the early side or not but it didn't hold her up. I do think it might have been useful because she tended to sign and say the word at the same time so we could work out what she was saying and perhaps that gave her more confidence as she was understood. She dropped the signs pretty quickly because her vocal ability improved beyond her sign knowledge.

TheProvincialLady Fri 25-Sep-09 20:12:15

We had an experience like yours Karam. DS1 was sobbing in the night and we turned on the light and he was signing for food. One piece of toast later, he went straight back to sleep.

CMOTdibbler Fri 25-Sep-09 21:25:09

We didn't do any classes, but watched Something Special, and signed with DS.

Signing really helped DS to 'say' all the things he wanted to communicate when he was at the stage where he knew it, but couldn't say - really removed that frustration.

Interestingly, he still remembers his signs well at 3.4, and will use them when he wants you to be very sure about things. Will also sign to children he meets who signs

feetheart Fri 25-Sep-09 21:48:36

DH and I signed with both DD and DS and we all loved it. I had done some signing at work (mainly Makaton) but DH was a novice.
Started at about 7mths with DD and she signed back at about 10mths, started much earlier with DS as it was just part of how we communicated with babies by then and I think he signed back at about 9mths.

It was brilliant with both children, a real insight into their world and what interested them. We also have stories like Karam and TheProvincialLady - DD was very fussy eater but after a tummy bug kept signing 'more' and we kept feeding her!! Without the signing she would have just grizzled and we would have thought she was still feeling ill.

DD spoke early but had about 50 signs by then (I kept a record!), DS talked much later and had over 100 signs shock. Now, at 6 and 3, they are both very articulate, clear speakers. It might not be related to the signing but anything that helps communication has to be a good thing in my book.

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