Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baby Signs: My Experience

We started teaching Little Miss a few baby signs when she was very little. It was a few months before she started imitating them back and using them appropriately. By the time she was about 6 months old she could sign "more", "milk", and "please". Although we taught her other signs for fun - these 3 basic signs were the only ones I was really adamant about.

Instead of crying as a means of communication - "more" gave her another way to let us know what she needed, same with "milk". And as for "please"'s never to young to start teaching manners! =)

Insisting that she sign "please" before certain things was also a means of her learning patience and appropriate behavior.

I wouldn't just give her what she wanted to get her to stop throwing a fit - I waited. And soon she learned that when she was nice and signed please, she would get what she wanted. Not when she threw a fit.

Teaching her the latter at an early age has really been helping us get through these terrible two's because (with a lot of consistency) we've already established what's okay behavior and what's not in our home.

Another thing that she loved when she was little - me singing the ABC's accompanied by the signs for the letters. This really got her attention, just like any hand-game song. I would also sing The Three Little Indians song with the number signs, among others. Combining music and signs was very stimulating and really helped her language development.

Have you taught your child any signs? Which ones did you find most beneficial and why?

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. It's a guest blogger and it's chucked full of awesome research on sign language and language development!

*I actually really think the following video is kind of annoying - but it shows all 3 signs I mentioned above. We didn't use a video to teach Little Miss, just us doing the sign and lots of repitition...


  1. I'm really interested in teaching my 7 month old a few signs. He's starting to become really determined and I would love to be able to understand his wants a little more. Did you use a certain book or program to teach your baby signs? Any advice would be great! (And is 7 months too late?)

  2. Ryan didn't start signing until he was about 1 year. But the signs definitely helped him with his speaking words too. My parents are deaf so I try to teach every sign, but I am not very good at remembering. :) It's helped us a lot since the sign will assist in understanding what he is saying. :)

  3. Whitney - 7 months is definitely NOT too late!! Anytime is a good time to start. We didn't use a program or video. My husband and I just used lots of repetition and consistency. The easiest time we found to reinforce the signs I mentioned was during meal time. Good luck! I'm sure it'll go well!

  4. Thanks for reminding me I wanted to do this. I would really like to learn those three words you mentioned and a few more. I think it's such a great way to communicate.

  5. With my first kid, signs were totally awesome. I started signing with her around 6 months and she did her first sign at 10 monts (more) but with my second, one of the first signs he learned was please (my first learned please a lot later). He signed please all the time and I thought it was really cute. but a couple of weeks ago I started to feel a little concerned because he wasn't using a lot of words (sign or otherwise). and then it dawned on me. Signing please and pointing were getting him EVERYTHING he wanted so why would he need other words? so I stopped responding to please and within 3 days he had 3 new words (no joke). I mentioned this to my friend who does early intervention and she said she calls "please" (both the word and the sign) a language killer because it allows kids to use the same sign for everything they want.

    This in no way is meant to discourage signing. I am a firm believer in giving kids the tools to communicate as soon as possible, i just wanted to let other moms know that sometimes learning please (or similar words such as more) too early can stunt other language growth. at least it did for my son. or, I should say, at least I think it did for my son.

  6. -tAy- Totally valid point! I'm glad you brought it up. One thing we did with Little Miss...After she learned the sign and we knew she was old enough to speak - was reinforcing her saying the word that went along with the sign before we gave her things. Eventually we stopped using the signs all together. But recently she's started signing please again along with saying the word when she really wants something. Kind of interesting. But I do think it's important to make the transition to verbal communication when the time is right.

  7. Good for you. My husband and I are both fluent in ASL and so we taught our kids some sign before they could talk. I think, like you said, it helped tremendously with their communication skills...including English! Keep it up!


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