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Do You Sign With Your Baby?

Let me start of by saying that the title of this blog is a bit tongue and cheek. I’m calling it “Baby Signing for Beginners” because I
image of baby
only know a few signs! So let’s begin there. If you know and use others, feel free to laugh at me and teach me a thing or two as well! I’ve always used the following three baby signs when talking to my babies, starting at around seven or eight months: Eat, Drink and More. I figure, any way they can communicate their needs, the easier life will be for both of us. No matter how in tune I am with my children, I am still often baffled by the frustrated pointing and grunting that can quickly turn to angry howler monkey-like screeches. “How can you not understand me, Mommy! Aren’t we practically the same person??” And yes, while I can often read Cooper’s mind, it also important that he learns how to tell me what he needs with words or signs. Eat Signing “eat” is fairly straight forward--Pinch all of your fingers together like you are holding a piece of food and bring it to your mouth. Cooper does his own variations of signs as do other children, so sometimes he points to his mouth, sometimes he holds an imaginary piece food, sometimes his mouth is open, sometimes closed but I know what he wants when he does it. Drink To sign "drink" curl your fingers and thumb around an imaginary glass of water. With your left hand you will be forming the letter C (completely unrelated--that’s just the shape you want). Bring your hand to your mouth, touch your thumb to your lip and tilt your hand back as if you were drinking from a cup. Your baby may not be able to mimic your hand movements perfectly, just as if he were speaking verbally, he might be "signing" baby talk, but after a while you’ll catch on. More Signing “more” involves keeping the fingers on both of your hands straight and pinching them all together with your thumb. Then bring your hands in front of you and touch the tips of your fingers together. (Does that makes sense?) It’s hard to describe how to sign so what I suggest is to do some searching on YouTube and you’ll find videos of children and babies demonstrating the hand and finger motions. In fact, I just did this a moment ago with Cooper on my lap and he absolutely loved watching the babies. He kept signing “More! More!” These are the three signs that I use most, though I also know a few others like banana, ball, strawberry, milk and potty. Maybe I’ll add a few more to the repertoire since, unlike the girls, Cooper is a bit of caveman and prefers to point and grunt. Do you sign with your baby? Which signs are your favorite?
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  • We are trying to sign. He hasn’t picked it up yet but it’s still early. My niece knows who signs just from daycare even though my sister never reinforced them at home!

    Martha Grondin on
  • Love the article….wish my daughter would pick up on it though!

    Danielle S. on
  • I have been wanting to sign with my new baby as well. My older kids like watching Signing Time, so maybe my baby will pick up some from that as well.

    Sherrie Smith on
  • I started signing at 6-7 months with both of my kids. My oldest did not initiate on his own until 10 months. My second initiated asking for more with sign without prompting at 6 months. She learned just from watching her brother who is 13 months older! It has been a fantastic communication tool to reduce screaming and fits, as well as providing a quieter method to speak with my kids in public because although my 2 year old no longer depends on sign to communicate, he still understands it and can use it. I highly recommend the effort to teach sign even if it takes several months to catch on. We have an active vocabulary of 20 or so basic words related to common activities and requests by toddlers. We mostly sign verbs and pleasantries, like Please and thank you.

    Tamra on
  • We signed with my first (he is now 3). I have started to introduce it to my six month old as well. The ones we used most often were ‘more’, ‘eat’, and ‘potty’. The only one I am using with the youngest right now is ‘milk’.

    Melissa on

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