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SIGNING WITH YOUR BABY Seeing The World Through a Child's Eyes

Elizabeth is a wife and mother of three boys in Oregon. She taught all of her boys to use infant sign language and continues to share her knowledge with other parents, babies and early childhood educators by teaching classes in her community

You can read her blog at http://www.babysignswithelizabeth.blogspot.com

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We’ve all been there; the baby is crying and you have the list of possible solutions in your head. It’s called the process of elimination (although there’s another one of those when it comes to babies, but that’s another article) and it’s how we fix the problem when our babies can’t tell us what they want or need. Grab the bottle, burp the baby, change the diaper, do that bouncy, rocking thing up and down the hallway.

But what if you didn’t have to just go through the motions each time, what if your baby COULD tell you their wants and needs. Teaching your baby sign language gives them the words to do just that. A comment I’ve gotten more than once is “Well I know my baby’s cries and what each one means so I don’t need them to sign it to me.” And my response is always the same “But what if they didn’t have to cry in the first place?” And that’s when they get it.

My kid isn’t a genius because he knows sign language (he’s a genius because he takes after Mommy). The list of benefits of teaching baby sign language is huge. Talking sooner, higher IQ and larger vocabulary are all on the list of benefits, but I taught my boys for one main reason, Communication. Communication is such an important part of your entire life and proper communication prevents a lot of frustrations. I was amazed at how many times I guessed my baby’s needs wrong! He just ate, there is no way he’s hungry…. Guess again, it’s called a growth spurt and teaching your baby the sign for “eat,” “milk” or “nurse” can tell you that. Trust me, given the right tools a baby is not shy about telling you exactly what they require.

Babies have a lot to say. Babies can typically start to sign around six months and most babies start really talking around 24 months. That’s 18 months of time you could spend talking WITH your baby, not just TO him!

You could be missing out on conversations like this:

Joshua would only make the sign for “Daddy”; even if he were referring to me he’d sign “Daddy.” Every time I’d ask him to sign “Mommy” and show him the sign he’d get that adorable yet infuriating grin on his face. And so starts the “I’m not going to do it because you told me to do It.” attitude that yes, all kids develop at some point. So Mother’s day comes around and we have all the boys packed in the truck. My husband Mike went into the store while we waited in the car (it didn’t take long for us to learn that taking three boys out of their car seats and into the store for 5 minutes and putting them back into their car seats screaming because they felt they weren’t free long enough…was not worth it.) I turned around and asked Joshua if he could sign “Mommy,” it was Mother’s Day for crying out loud, Come on child! My adorable little blond Gerber baby looked at me and signed “Love” and “Mommy.” That child was forgiven for every night of missed sleep, every time I’d been puked on or worse… My heart melted all over the floor of that truck and he knew it. He was beaming with pride and accomplishment, like he’d saved it up special just for Mother’s Day. And he signed it again and again. From that day on he would sign “Mommy” when he was referring to me.

Having a sneak peek into your baby’s developing personality, their likes and dislikes is priceless. It gives them the opportunity to feel truly understood more often because they are being understood. It shows you what they are looking at and thinking about. That flower you walk by every day while thinking about your to-do list, your baby is fascinated by it every time. When you give her the sign to tell you that she loves the “flower” it makes you stop, smile and really smell the roses.

The World through a child’s eyes is amazing and refreshing.

 



Please share your thoughts and experiences below.

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