Baby sign has completely impacted our parenting style in the most beautiful and rewarding way. My daughter Lainey, who is twelve months old, can communicate all her needs with me – through baby signs. It is incredible!
She tells me when she wants “milk”, “more”, and “Mama”. She tells me when she wants something to “eat”, “drink”, and when she wants a “book”. She tells me when she’s “all done” and signs “bath” when it’s time for one. She also signs “please” when there’s something she wants.
Lainey hardly cries or fusses, and I believe this is because she can clearly communicate all her needs with me. With baby sign, the guessing game of what she wants is completely out of the picture. A true game changer!!
Before Lainey was born, I was not super passionate about baby sign. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it. However, my sister and a couple other people encouraged baby sign so we went with it. Needless to say, I am very passionate about it now and highly encourage it for every baby!
How and when did we start baby sign? I am no expert but here is what worked best for us.
The First Three Baby Signs We Introduced to Our Child
1.) Milk. “Milk” was the first sign we introduced to Lainey. We started when Lainey was 3 months old. It was repetition, repetition, repetition. Before every feed, I would say and sign “milk”. For example, I would say, “Lainey, would you like some milk? Milk? Milk?” (and be signing “milk”).
2.) More. We introduced “more” at six months, when Lainey started eating solids. After every spoonful, we would say and sign “more”. We also showed her how to sign the word. We focused on repetition and would say and sign the word after every spoonful and at every meal.
We use “more” all the time now! We use it when playing and reading to help illustrate more of a toy, game or book. There are endless opportunities to use this sign – we really like it!
3.) All Done. We introduced “all done” with “more” during meal time. When Lainey was done eating, we would sign and ask if she was “all done”. We would also show her how to sign the word.
Like “more”, we use “all done” in many settings. We use it to ask her if she’s done with an activity (“All done” at the park?) and to tell her when we are all done with something (“All done” with books for the night).
As Lainey grew and developed, we introduced more signs. Currently, we are at nine (9) signs and are working on a couple more. It is okay to start small. I would recommend it actually. There are a lot of great resources available and videos to help you learn the signs (Google was great!).
A couple other things we learned – Lainey’s signs started very subtle and looked slightly different than what we showed her. For instance, Lainey’s “more” started with her clapping her hands. As she physically developed, her sign shaped more to the traditional sign. We didn’t focus on correcting her interpretation of the word. All that mattered was that we were able to interpret what she meant.
Lastly, we remained very patient. We started at three months and Lainey was five months old before her first sign. This is completely normal, and it could even take longer. Now, Lainey picks up signs much faster. In five days she learned “book”.
If it weren’t for my sister and a couple others encouraging us, we probably would not have started baby sign. We would have completely missed out on this opportunity! My hope is that after reading this, you feel inspired to research baby sign!
You can read more about Lainey and baby sign in my blog here.
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The Basics and Benefits of Baby Sign Language
Our own Jann Fujimoto of Speechworks from Lake Country, was interviewed in this article on theBump.com.