Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Baby Signs

When my granddaughter The Princess was born, her mother decided she would try using Baby Signs. For those who don't know, Baby Signs is a system that parents can use to teach their infants to communicate using sign language. The system is not the same as the sign language used by the deaf; it is simplified for babies. {The newest edition does include information on American Sign Language and using it with baby.}  Alyssa purchased the book Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn and Doug Abrams. The idea of communicating by signs made perfect sense; after all, don't most babies learn to wave bye-bye before they learn to say bye-bye?

Alyssa started using a few simple signs when The Princess was about 6 months old. She used signs for "eat," "more," "all done,", "bye bye" and "milk." The Princess began signing back at about 9 months of age and was able to communicate about her eating and drinking needs. There was no more baby crying while parents tried to figure out what she wanted. She TOLD them what she wanted. I learned the signs too, so whenever I took care of her, I knew what she wanted. Honestly, it was awesome! Life was so much less frustrating for everyone concerned, especially The Princess.

Over time, she learned the signs to tell us when her diaper was uncomfortable, when her tummy hurt, and when she wanted to look at a book. By the time she was 18 months, she had over 60 signs, many of which she had made up herself and taught to her parents. :-)  Around a year old, she made her first sentence. Daddy was trying to give her a bottle, but she wanted to nurse. She signed, "Mommy milk please." She had signs for bath, drink, more, no more, dog, and bird.  She also had signs for please and thank you.

The Monster hasn't been as easy to teach, but he's catching on. He wasn't ready as early as The Princess having been born a preemie. When Alyssa did start using the signs, he just thought they were hilarious. Finally at about 14 months, he started signing back. I think his first sign was "all done/gone," and he works that one with enthusiasm. He also knows "milk" and "eat."

The book is straightforward and easy to understand. It starts with background information, theory, and research. Next is a section on how and when to introduce your baby to signs. The biggest part of the book is for the signs themselves.

There is some research to show that babies taught with Baby Signs actually begin to speak earlier than other babies, but this wasn't our experience with The Princess. She seemed content to use her signs for a long time. When she did start talking, however, she jumped right in with a very large vocabulary.

In addition to the original book, the Baby Signs company has a whole selection of helpful tools that you can find on their web site.They have also developed a potty training system using Baby Signs that looks very promising although I have not seen it in use. If it's as good as the Baby Signs system it is certainly worth looking at.

How about you? Have you tried Baby Signs? How did it work for you? Did I leave anything out? Are there questions I didn't answer for you? Leave a comment and let me know.