Ok, let’s bust this myth straight off the bat: signing with your baby will not stop them from talking. It can actually help them to learn language quicker and encourage them to talk to you earlier. Using signs is about giving your baby a visual clue to what you are saying and gives them a way to copy and interact with you long before words come.
Think about it, how have you been teaching ‘bye bye’ to your baby? You’re using your hands to wave and saying the words over and over again. How happy is your baby when they copy you and join in? Do you coo with delight and give them the biggest smile and encourage them to do it again? It’s exactly the same with baby sign, we are just adding more ‘signs’ and words for you both to use in your everyday life.
Giving you more ways to communicate with your baby is really powerful, and it will help you to tune into your baby. They can start using their hands from about 6/7 months old when they start getting to grips with hand eye coordination, but they don’t really get going with words until 18 months old or so. That’s a really big gap of time when every day you’re just guessing, not knowing what they want, and your baby may be feeling frustrated and misunderstood.
We always talk when we sign to our babies and they will try to babble and copy you with immature speech for some time. But when you sign and they start to sign back it is amazing! When they can see you understand them and respond, you are giving them such a huge boost in confidence, self-esteem and language. Baby sign can help you focus you on what your baby wants to ‘talk’ about and lay down the basics of language, conversation and turn taking.
Baby sign can make your life a tiny bit easier, remove the guessing game and replace it with a happier, calmer, more ‘chatty’ baby who can tell you that they want milk, food or simply a cuddle. You can read more about the benefits of signing in our earlier blogpost on how baby sign can help you and your baby.
“We’ve done the signs for ‘more’, ‘food’ and ‘drink’ most meal times since (plus a few others). And after a month my son has started signing more on his own. So proud and amazed it really does work!”. Alison, Ealing.
I signed with both of our children and they have grown into amazing communicators and talkers. Our son marched to his own timetable and met every milestone in his own good time. He wasn’t a particularly late talker, he was just more interested in trains. We started signing with him from about 9 months or so and it gave him a clear way to express himself. His first signs were ‘train’, ‘more’, ‘car’ and ‘plane’ and that pretty much sums up our first 18 months together! Words came steadily and then one day he just simply started counting and from there on he dropped the signs and words took over.
Our little girl is completely different and has been very keen to express herself and join in with the family from early on. I don’t know if it’s a girl thing, a second child thing or what, but her signing and language skills are simply amazing. She started signing at 5 months and has been all about books and animals. Her first sign was ‘more’ – see her super cute video. She probably has 50 or more signs, but we are now having an avalanche of words and today she said a 5-word sentence!
I absolutely connect signing with both my children to their growing communication skills. They have both been so calm and relaxed and we’ve given them a voice to be heard and listened to from the beginning. It allowed us both to be more attentive, tuned in and they’ve not needed to scream or shout so much as they could tell us what they needed.
See you soon,
Little Hands Baby Sign classes run in Brentford on Tuesdays mornings and Hanwell on Thursday mornings from September 2018. Find out more about the classes here.