Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baby Sign

Abigail did her first sign yesterday! And I got it on video. All done. Abigail is just two days over eight months old.

For those of you who aren't familiar with baby sign, let me provide a brief overview. Firstly, here is a great website providing a fantastic description and sign illustrations.

To answer the first question that everyone asks me, no, signing with babies does not slow down the speed at which they speak. Here is some information on research done on just that.  "Research on baby sign language has found that teaching baby signs improved cognitive and emotional development. Far from slowing down speech, baby sign language actually increases the rate of verbal development and at the same time increases the parent/child bond."

I could not agree more. Both of my boys spoke at very normal, age-appropriate stages as I show below:

We noticed Isaac recognizing signs when he was about eight months old. Isaac's first sign was milk when he was 8.5 months old. By 10.5 months he had three signs. By 11 months, he was recognizing and/or using approximately five signs.  

Here is a video of Isaac signing please just before his first birthday. By one, he was stringing two signs together.  At 13 months, I captured in words his desire to please have his shoes put on. At 16 months, he had added airplane to his arsenal.

When it comes to speaking, by the time he was one, Isaac already had a few words.  By one and a half he was chattering away, so much so that we couldn't even write down how many words he was saying. Developmental milestones say that children should have one or more words by 13 to 18 months. Isaac had far surpassed that.

With Elijah, he was "sort of" making a sign around ten months old.  By the time 11 months came around, he was signing all done We laughed that more was his second sign. Man he loved to eat! He had two signs by the time he turned one.

Elijah was saying a few words at one, but they weren't very clear. But by 2 he was stringing together words. He wasn't as clear as Isaac had been, but his language was right on track. 

The boys talked fairly early, obviously nixing the idea that signs delay speech.

JB and I first witnessed sign from my friend Beth's little girl. She was still crawling, but when she saw a piece of cake, and she wanted it, she started rubbing her belly. No screaming. Just asking please. John and I were amazed and immediately started researching this fascinating ability for a crawling baby to make her needs known.

I can't tell you whether or not to use sign. But here's what I can tell you. My boys seem like very normal, run-of-the-mill three year olds. But as of today, neither of them has thrown a true temper tantrum. Okay, so yes, Elijah once lost his mind in Istanbul.  (And forever ever, anything closely resembling that performance is called an istanbul). But I could definitely tell that both of my boys were much less frustrated than children I saw who did not sign. They seemed to be able to communicate their needs as early as eight months. And that felt good. It did make me feel like I was understanding them as their Mom. JB agrees. It's a decision we love, and we'll never be persuaded otherwise. 

So there you have it. Any other signers out there? I'd love to hear from you. 


Faith said...

Yay! Love this! I was late on starting sign just because I didn't know very many - but mine both love to sign "more" and I have started with milk and please and thank you. I am excited for the website you shared so I can learn more! Thank you!

Carrie said...

I couldn't agree more! It makes no sense that it would "slow down" speaking. Definitely not the case with my non-stop talker! I LOVE that they can communicate so much earlier and it definitely cuts back on the tantrums and frustrations!

Becky said...

We've done signs with both boys. My kid (6yo) started using them when he was about 10mon and used them for about 4mon (didn't need to any longer than that because by then he was using full sentences, yes, at 14mon). I can count on 1 hand the # of tantrums he's ever had. Baby E is almost 18mon and started signing when he was about 12mon. He's just recently started stringing signs together (more milk please). I love to know what's going on in their little heads! Signing is amazing!

briggsdna said...

You and I have talked about how much we love signing. I am a huge fan!!

Natalie said...

I'm a speech language pathologist and work with toddlers in early intervention. I use signs on a daily basis with my clients who are behind on their language development. It is so much fun to see them be able to communicate with them for the first time!

June said...

We did/do signs with all 3 of our girls, but I think the lack of tantrums of your boys is more because of temperament than anything else! LOL. It's not a communication problem that prompts the tantrum, oh no, its being told (and understanding) that what she wants ain't gonna happen.

Beth said...

You already know I love baby sign. For a little perspective, my daughter loved sign and learned a ton of words using it. She was extremely verbal at a young age. Now she is in first grade, reading at a third grade level and learning new vocabulary as fast as we can give it to her. It's crazy! On the other side of the sign spectrum is our son. We taught him sign in the same way, but he struggled to catch. on. Eventually he was diagnosed with a genetic condition that causes global delay in all areas including language development and fine motor skills, necessary for doing sign language! He did learn a few critical signs and those were incredibly useful when he couldn't get his point across. At nearly five years old, he still uses sign when we just can't seem to understand him or for emphasis..when he really wants a cookie he will sign please so hard he almost hurts himself! Sign has been a great tool in our home and i am so glad we used it for both our children.

Anonymous said...

We did signing with both kids from 9 mo. till they lost interest and it greatly helped communication at a young age. We used "Baby Signing Time" DVD's. I would HIGLY recommend them - fun to watch with catchy music! It helped me figure out how to sign too. The kids watched them well into preschool age. Now that they are 5 & 6 they are kind of done with them, but every once in a while they still ask to watch them.

I don't think that signing helps expression later in life - my daughter (5) has had her share of temper tantrums since age 3 - but it seems to be her way to asert her "independence" and try to get her way - it doesn't seem to be at all about not being able to express herself well. She has a pretty big vocabulary and is not afraid to use it. ;)