A lot of parents-to-be say they are interested in teaching their new little one “baby sign.” I’ve heard many parents of toddlers say “Oh, we were going to teach our baby to sign, but we forgot about it.” I am so lucky that I am not one of those parents. I am not in any way saying those parents are wrong or bad, but my life would be so much more frustrating if I hadn’t followed through with baby signing and encourage the other caregivers in my daughter’s life to do the same.
My almost 2-year-old has a minor speech delay. We saw a speech therapist for an evaluation a few months ago, and she was a little behind, but she wasn’t delayed enough to qualify for speech therapy. Like any toddler, Savannah throws her fair share of temper tantrums. Many tantrums come from frustration. I can tell you, if she did not know how to sign, the number of daily tantrums thrown would probably be tripled. Savannah “says” quite a few words, but many of the words are hard to distinguish. Approximately 75% of the words she currently says I would not understand without a sign accompanying it.
Going from the top of my head, here are the signs Savannah knows:
- Thank You
- All Done
There may be more, but that is all I can think of right now. Most of those signs she knows really well. There are a few that she needs a reminder before she’ll sign, like grass, car, tree, shoes and socks.
So, you want to know how we taught her to sign, right? It really wasn’t too hard. Baby signing is based on American Sign Language. I had a very limited knowledge of ASL from college; really, the only thing I could remember was my alphabet. Our success came from starting when she was young. She was about 6 months old when I really started using certain signs consistently. I started out with just a few that we could use everyday, like milk, mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. She didn’t sign them back for several months, but she got to the point that I would sign something while saying the word out loud, and she would get excited. Once she understood those few signs, I borrowed some DVDs from the library. The DVDs I have had the most success with have been the “Baby Signing Time” series.
This program shows the sign, says the word, and usually shows a picture of whatever the word is. They then go on to show babies and toddlers using the signs. Watching these DVDs with Savannah has been the key to learning sign myself. There is lots of music in these DVDs, and she LOVES watching them. She frequently asks to watch them. There have been times she will pick up a sign that I do not know, and all I have to do is go back and watch the DVD with her to figure it out. We haven’t moved on to the “Signing Time” DVDs yet, but I’m sure we will soon.
There are a few things that Savannah loves that “Baby Signing Time” doesn’t cover. For example, she loves yogurt, cheese and grapes. To learn those signs myself, I visited http://www.babysignlanguage.com/. I would then teach her the sign. This website has an extensive dictionary. When you find the word you are looking for, click on the word, and it will take you to a page where there is a short video showing how to sign the word, a description of how to sign the word, a picture showing the sign, the usage for the sign and links to related signs. It uses multiple learning styles, which is really nice since we all learn in different ways! I haven’t spent a whole lot of time on the website, but there is a shop where you can purchase different things like books, charts, flashcards, DVDs and kits.
Baby sign has saved us so much frustration. The key to teaching your baby is repetition. Also, it is really important that you teach other people who spend a lot of time with your child basic signs, or they will experience the same frustration you are trying to avoid!
If you have any questions about how we taught Savannah sign, please feel free to ask!
*All of the opinions about the above materials are my own. I have no relationship with the companies, and I am not receiving any commission. I am recommending them because I love them!