Baby Signing with The Best Start Club
.Baby is whining, unsettled and often crying and there begins the parents checking the list. Dirty nappy? Hungry? Tired? Etc. We all feel our babies are very intelligent, they understand a great deal but they just cannot speak yet. First, we must begin to understand that a baby's vocal chords begin to develop for speech around the age of 12 - 18 months. Yet even then, they are only beginning to say a few words. It is not until babies normally reach the age of about 18 months to 2 years that they can begin to be clearly understood. Yet even at this point there is limited vocabulary. There is something that can help. Baby Signing. What is it? Baby Signing is the use of simple signs or gestures to communicate. Baby's first form of communication is through simple gestures, they smile, they wave, they point. This is all part of it. Baby Signing is the use of sign (often borrowed from the local Sign Language, BSL in the UK) parents show the baby repetitively a sign each time they are telling the baby something eg giving the baby milk (breast or bottle) the parent squeezes the hand to make a fist each time they give the baby milk. The baby will begin to recognise this signal very quickly and within weeks or sometimes a few months do this back when asking for milk. The key to this is consistency, the more the baby sees the "sign" the sooner they will recognise it and associate it with the object. When should I start? Anytime. The benefits are different whatever age you start. Babies are capable of understanding signs from just a few weeks. My daughter, with whom I starting signing to from birth, recognised her first sign at 4 weeks of age. This sign was "nappy change". Understanding the sign meant that she knew when we were going to change her nappy and thereby began to know what to expect. By the time she was 9 weeks old she recognised the signs for "milk", "nappy change", "mummy" and "up". She was very settled and being her mum was much easier as I knew if I signed something she recognised and she smiled or got excited then that was what she wanted. Some years before this I signed with my son. When he was about 15 months his normal nap time was 12pm. One morning at 10am he came into the kitchen and signed "milk" and "sleep". I got him his milk and took him to his cot and he went straight to sleep. No crying or whimpering. Sometime 2 - 3 hours later he woke up very content. This was very simple for him. How to get started? Start with a few simple signs like "milk", "nappy change", "up", "food", "bath", "sleep". Start with the most important things for your baby. Then do the sign every time it's relevant, make it part our your routine. Keep in mind, you won't remember to sign all the time, try but don't stress about it. This needs to be something you do together and enjoy. Don't expect results overnight. Some babies recognise signs within days for others it can take a couple of months. When will my baby sign back? Most babies sign back between 8 and 12 months. However, some babies do sign much earlier than this. In our classes we have had some babies sign back as young as 4 or 5 months. How does Baby Signing affect speech? This is an important question. We always, always say the word as we sign. As we speak and sign baby learns to associate the word with the sign. Along with this parents naturally speak slower when they sign so baby hears the word clearer. Signing actually enhances speech. Research has shown that babies that sign or have been signed to speak earlier and have a greater vocabulary. What do the experts say? "With signs literally at your baby's fingertips, communication between you can flourish during that difficult time from about nine to thirty months, when your baby's desire to communicate outstrips her capacity to say words." Dr Linda Acredolo & Dr Susan Goodwyn 'Baby Signs' Vermillion, 2000) Interested in finding out more? At The Best Start Club we run Baby Signing Classes for babies from Birth to 3 Years in St Albans, Hatfield, WGC, Hertford, Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage. Website: www.thebeststartclub.co.uk Phone: 01707 886830
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