Before I was a mom I had LOTS of ideas about how I would raise my children. Preconceived notions of a baby who slept in their crib every night with only a few wakings, a baby who would nap in a swing or bouncer, a baby who would let others care for them as easily as me…
Then my first child came out screaming and blasted all those out of the water. I became pretty “crunchy” out of necessity and it has STILL saved my sanity some days with all three kids. I’ll admit the cloth diapers are a little for me, they are sooooooooooo cute! Baby wearing and bed sharing though? Total lifesavers! I’d be even more sleep deprived and frazzled without the ability to just roll over and nurse a baby back to sleep, or toss her on my back and go somewhere with the big kids knowing baby will at least be happy up there (maybe even sleep!).
Where am I going with this? Baby sign. It was all the rage when I had Lillian and we did a few signs with her but she was SO verbal that it wasn’t really needed. She picked up “milk” so we knew she wanted to nurse and “all done”. That was about it. Ana we used it even more because she didn’t speak well till almost 2.5!
Well, tonight Isabel showed me her 4th sign!! She doesn’t have a very large vocabulary. She can say: “mama”, “dada”, “lala” (Lily), “nana” (Ana), “fish”, “dance” (which sounds just like fish but she dances when saying it lol), “boov” (thanks Home), “uh oh”, and “this”. That last one is problematic because she points at EVERYTHING and just says “this”.
I’ve been naming items & signing them with her for months due to “this” and she has picked up “milk”, “bath”, “eat”, and last night…”up”! I never imagined I’d have to use sign language to help me understand any of my children but it has been very helpful.
Signing is actually beneficial in a lot of ways. When babies/young kids don’t have the means to communicate it often creates anger/frustration and that comes out as a tantrum. Signing “angry”, “hurt”, “frustrated”, or “scared” is easier for them & can give them a way to express their emotions without verbalizing. That made a BIG impact on Ana. Terrible twos for her were really rough so I used a lot of emotion signs to help her calm down and tell me what was going on. Sometimes she just shook her head yes or no to the signs I made, other times she tried.
Teaching baby sign can also:
– improve cognitive and emotional development
– improve rate of verbal development
– increase the child/parent bond, plus it’s also fun!
If you’d like more information or sources you can download the paper “Signing with Babies and Children” by Dr. Claire Vallotton here. Signing time is an amazing resource for anyone looking to sign with their babies/kids!