Thursday, June 27, 2013

Baby Sign Language - What's on Your Mind?

Honestly, I was skeptical about Baby Sign Language to a certain degree. I didn't think it would start "working" until 7+ months like all the resources on baby signing suggest and I thought it might be difficult to work into our routine. Boy was I wrong! We started signing with Asher at 3 months and now at 19 weeks, he is already starting to sign to us. For real.

At first I thought I was being "that mom" who might insist her baby is signing when he is really just moving his hands around randomly. But after a few days of wondering if what I was seeing could be real - I know it is! My baby is signing to me!  { I apologize in advance for all the exclamation points. I am just that amazed and excited about this! }

Here's what happened that made me a believer in baby sign language:

Last night, Asher would NOT go to sleep. I tried putting him down 4 times starting at 7:30pm. He would either fuss or just play and talk in his bassinet. I tried feeding him more milk, changed him, let him sit with me and the dogs for a while. He kept signing "banana" and putting his hand to his mouth (which now I know meant "eat"). Being a baby who may or may not be starting teething, I just figured it was just a baby thing. As far as the "banana" sign, I thought it must be that he didn't really know what it meant yet, or he was associating it with the book we had just read with bananas in it. I basically didn't want to jump to conclusions - I mean, he's not even 5 months old yet. Finally, after hours of this, I gave in and fed him some carrots (he already had bananas that morning). He ate almost 3 tbsp with a smile on his face the whole time. I got him cleaned up and readied again for bed. When I put him down, he fell asleep INSTANTLY. He was out for the night. I should have listened to him in the first place! I probably would have saved myself hours of frustration. 

So now I am a believer. I will be teaching him all the signs I can throughout the next few months. 

Could this be "eat"?

Here's how we've done it so far.

I did not know any signs when we decided to do this. I bought a baby signing book, but after trying to decipher a few of the signs pictured in the book, I have realized that I need to actually see it being done to learn it. I bought Baby Signing Time Vol. 1 and learned alongside Asher some of the basic, primary signs for babies. This DVD is AWESOME. It's the only thing Asher will watch on TV and he absolutely LOVES it. It's full of fun songs, cartoons, and other babies making signs. I really want to get him the full set complete with a "Mr. Hopkins" plush frog (because that's a necessity), but it's unfortunately out of our budget right now. I bought volume 3 on Ebay (I don't know why I skipped 2... it was a 1:00 am purchase) and plan to slowly build our collection.

He watches it a few times a day (*blush*) while I'm doing things around the house or getting work done on the computer. Hey - at least it's educational!

Our early signs throughout the day have included:
  • "Milk" - whenever we would give him a bottle and while he's drinking it.
  • "Water" - whenever he was getting a bath, when it was raining and he would focus on it, or when I was drinking a bottle of water.
  • "Dog" - whenever he saw/touched Suki or Sumo, our pugs, or when reading the book Doggies.
  • "More" - when we'd give him more milk, read him another book or do more of anything he liked.
  • "Mama" - when he looked at me, "Dada" when he saw John.
  • "Grandma/Nonna" and "Grandpa" - with our parents (although we've been slacking with those).

That's pretty much it until about 2 weeks ago. I also have another DVD (that is full of 80s footage and not fun for babies at all) where I picked up a few more signs.

I have recently introduced:

  • "Banana"
  • "Bird"
  • "Diaper"
  • "Change"
  • "Eat"
  • "Up" <-- Which I may regret because he always wants up! :)
  • "Hungry" <-- New today. This may be too conceptual for his age, though...

Mind you, Asher watched the DVD each day and has seen the signs for "banana" and "eat" in the video since he was 3 months old. We also read a book called Today, I'd Really Like to Eat a Child that has a crocodile who eats bananas in it and we sign "banana" while reading it, too. (It's a cute book and not at all as scary as it sounds - haha!)

The thing about a young baby signing is that you have to have a keen eye for their signs early on. They are primitive versions of the sign and can easily be written off as nothing. For example, here is a video of Asher signing "more" and "banana" a few days ago (please ignore my annoying mommy voice)

I will continue to post on our progress with Baby Sign Language. I also am going to be tweeting videos of signs and any cool resources on the practice, so follow me on Twitter to get those updates!

Sorry this post is lacking pictures. It's hard to get my little signer on camera.

Good luck with your baby signing adventures. I'm happy to answer any questions and also welcome advice from anyone who has done signing with their babies!

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