Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Signs That It's Time To Up the Signing

This morning after breakfast Hannah was playing around the Jeep rather than in it and somehow managed to get stuck underneath it. Although I was sitting on the floor next to her, watching the whole thing unravel, I really have no idea how it happened.  She looked like she knew what she was doing and was deliberately trying to get underneath the vehicle, probably to check the oil or something, but she went from deliberate to mad in 0.002 seconds.  I helped her crawl out, and she stood up and resumed her under-the-hood check.

It occurred to me that I should learn the sign for help (though even if she knew it, she probably wouldn't have had the space to execute it in the above scenario) along with a couple of other crucial signs (e.g., bread) for those times when I'm unable to interpret "EHHHH!!"    We've been practicing the signs for eat, drink, and more pretty constantly since she was about 3 months old, and we also practice the signs for mommy, daddy, book, and all done though with less frequency.  From what I read in Baby Signs, 8 months is the earliest that babies are able to start communicating through signs, and it takes most till at least 10 months (of course it goes without saying that all babies are different).  She's coming up on her 9th month, is saying "mamamamama" with more frequency, and seems to WANT to talk (though maybe I'm projecting this?), so I think it's time for me to start learning and using more signs when I communicate with her.  Although the book I read has a list of baby signs in the back, I prefer to start by using ASL signs and then if she needs to modify them to something easier, so be it.  I found this great website called ASL Pro (also linked in the left sidebar of this site under the Links heading) that has a section for babies, which basically just means that they narrowed down their super huge dictionary to the few that they think babies would use.  I couldn't find bathroom signs in there though so I had to delve into the main dictionary.  The cool thing about this site is that there are videos of the person doing the sign so you don't have to interpret pictures. I hate trying to interpret pictures of movement.

For those of you not familiar with baby signing, studies have shown that babies are able to understand you and are eager to communicate well before their vocal cords are developed enough to actually speak. Gesturing is much easier for them to learn.  Whenever I'm tooting the benefits of baby signing (which I had to do last week to a very skeptical Aunt Amy), I use this story that I pulled from the book linked above:

Andrew, fourteen months old, wakes up in a fright, wailing loudly for Laura, his mom,  As she stumbles into his room asking, "Whats the matter, sweetie? Don't you feel well?" Andrew furiously pats his chest. "Oh, you're scared!" answers Laura, as she swoops him up out of his crib and hugs him close.  "What is it, honey? Did you have a bad dream?" she asks.  Andrew's response is to pat his nose repeatedly, looking with wide eyes at his mother.  "Oh. It's that clown that Grandma bought. You don't like it so close at night.  That's OK, sweetie. Let's take it away for tonight so you can get back to sleep."  As Laura settles him back down in his crib, Andrew moves his thumb to his lips, tipping it up and down. "And you want a drink? OK, I'll be right back with some water."

After removing the clown, delivering the water, and giving him one last kiss, Laura returns to her own bed, the crisis quickly and successfully resolved.

How cool is that??  What's really cool is that he not only knew the signs for objects (clown, drink) but also for his emotions. I feel like that's pretty awesome.

Of course, if she's anything like her momma, she'll have control of those vocal cords pretty early on....


  1. We're so glad to read that you are signing with Hannah! We're excited to read more about your signing adventures in the near future.

    Linda Easton
    Baby Signs, Inc.

  2. Saw your post on Linda Easton's Facebook post. Our babies are so close in age! I'm taking a signing class next week and am interested to see how it goes. I've already been trying to teach "all done" and "more". Thanks for the post! I'll keep an eye on your blog as it's always fun to read about babies close in age to my little one.


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