Baby Sign Language (Part 1)

When I woke up this morning, V showed me a new trick she’d finally mastered.

My husband and I have been sticking out our tongues at her ever since she started making eye contact. I guess it’s just natural to make funny faces at babies. Now she was not only doing it on her own she was doing it in response whenever I did it. If she could learn to mimic that easily, maybe it was time to give sign language a real go.

Sign language was something my husband and I had discussed many times before and had decided that we wanted to do. After V was born I started to second guess this decision. Babies are obviously a lot of work. Did I really have time to learn a bunch of signs to teach our daughter? My father was also firmly opposed to the idea. When I first brought it up he made a face like he’d swallowed something nasty, then vigorously shook his head. A family he knew had tried sign language with their kids and they all wound up with delayed speech. Of course this was based on the sample size of a single family and at least two of the children had other mental disabilities which could have accounted for the delay. Still, it made me somewhat leery.

However, the tongue thing plus the fact that my favorite blogger’s daughter (who is two months ahead of V) had begun signing “milk” was enough to get me looking into signing again. This site had a lot of useful information, but it was clear I was going to need a book. For once Amazon.com let me down. Why is it that their “Look Inside!” feature never lets you take a sneak peek at what you really want? Half the time you get blank pages or the intro or something. What I really needed to see the signing illustrations but these were never shown. It can be hard to capture motions in an illustration and I wanted to make certain that I could decipher them easily. Unable to get what I needed online, we headed to Barnes & Noble. The selection was of course smaller and I paid more, but at least I could preview my purchase. This is the book I bought.

Most of the signs look rather intuitive. For instance, ‘banana” is made by holding up a finger and pretending to peel it. Easy right? I just need to remember to do it consistently. We’re actually at the optimal time to start teaching signs (6-7 months). Babies usually don’t start signing until 8-9 months so we won’t see results right away. I’m anxious to get started and will keep you posted!

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