Last night at dinner, Mr. 1 wanted a third helping of rice. My husband says to him, “Can you say please?”. Mr. 1 responds by emphatically rubbing his hand on his chest, the sign for “please”.
I almost cried for joy because I did not know he knew that word; he has never used it for me.
What I do know is that I would recommend baby sign language to any family. My 3 year old still uses it daily, and I enjoy learning the words, too. Some of them are really awesome. My favorite words are helicopter, rocket ship, and dinosaur.
My Kid’s Signing Portfolio
Mr. 1 knows more than 20 words, including but not limited to: Airplane, Elephant, Bus, Eat, Truck, More, Please, Eat, Milk, Up, Baby, Boat, Eat, Dance, Owl, Cow, Eat, Apple, Water, Banana, Eat, Cat, all done, and more. It seems like he learns a new sign every few days and it’s always a happy surprise.
My 3 year old loves to try the more complicated signs and is very proud of himself for mastering rocket ship. This requires you to lay your pointer finger over your middle finger on one hand, all other fingers hiding. Slide this formation vertically up your other palm. He had trouble with twisting his fingers and he practiced it a lot.
Mr. 1 started signing “Baby” when we were at a restaurant this weekend sitting next to a table with a younger baby than himself. At first I thought he wanted me to sing about Boats but then I realized he was talking about the baby at the other table. And he was so happy when I understood what he was trying to say, he just kept signing Baby Baby Baby. It was adorable.
Both of my kids really started to understand and reciprocate with sign language around 8-9 months. We started out with just a few signs “Eat” and “More” and “All Done” and slowly introduce more words when they show interest in something.
I usually just google “Owl in sign language” or “Bus in sign language” to learn a new word.
We also learn some signs at story time in our local library, and I absolutely LOVE that the librarian here tries to include it.
Another great reference is BabySignLanguage.com, they have a dictionary of common words that your children might be curious about and have short videos showing how to make the sign. They are not always exact with ASL (American Sign Language) since they focus on making it easier for the child to sign back.
Stick With It
It can be confusing when your child starts to sign because a lot of the signs as performed by baby look the same. Context clues and accompanying sounds can clarify the topic. For example Mr. 1 shakes both hands for All Done and for Car and Truck but with Car and Truck he always makes a very loud and long grunting sound that is his approximation of a big engine.
Now at nearly 14 months he can only speak a few words and they all sound like “Da” or “DaDa” so I particularly find the sign language helpful. Mr. 3 also did not have a lot of spoken words until 15-16 months, but he was speaking whole sentences before he was 2. Experts may tout actual evidence, but I do believe sign language can and does help reduce tantrums caused by an inability to express themselves, as well as help them establish a larger vocabulary.
If you want more information please say so below and I will be happy to provide you some sources to help you get started, or provide more personal examples. Sign language is an easy thing to add to your routine and can help you feel more connected to your young children.