Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fun with Baby Sign Language

Eve is one determined 11 month old. She knows what she wants and goes for it. The problem with this is of course language. It must be so frustrating when your mama keeps thrusting a beaker of water at you when you really want juice.

I had started to notice this frustration in her five or six weeks ago. She knows her routine and seems to understand a lot of instructions we give her, both in English and Irish. In the morning I ask her where the bibs are before she has her milk, she points up to the top shelf and then reaches to get one. Last week she answered 'ansin' (means 'there' in Irish for those of you outside Ireland). Like every other Mammy on the planet I oozed with pride. For these reasons I thought Eve would benefit from knowing a few baby signs to avoid the frustration of a mother who doesn't speak baby.

(Image from http://spilledmilkformoms.org)

I found this great Baby Sign-language website and taught myself a few. I stuck to the basics and tried to think of the words Eve might use if she could speak - thank you, please (I hope),  milk, hungry, play, cuddle and water. She studies my face when I use the sign as  I speak and low and behold today she made the sign for milk ten minutes before she was due a feed. She was obviously ready for it while I was using the clock as a guide.

There is the odd challenge of course. Eve loves blowing kisses. She blows them at people she likes and to show she likes objects (like flowers, cuddly toys etc.). As a result the sign for 'thank you' is confusing to her. But she attempts the sign and articulates the 't' sound anyway.

I'm making every effort to encourage her speech and language development but until the day comes that she can articulate her needs baby signs are a help. It's also common for bilingual babies to speak a little later than their monolingual counterparts as they've two language processes to deal with. I'm hoping that knowing a few signs will help her communication frustration over the coming months.

I found this useful printout on brixtonemakesthree.com...

Has anyone tried baby signing?


  1. Amy,

    I love baby signing, it is so cute! I took a couple sign language classes in college and as a person who has dealt with hearing loss personally, i've always wondered if one day i'd have a personal use for it...now i know i have language but i don't want to be the person yelling b/c i don't know how loud i'm talking :) i bet Eve is just the cutest thing and i think it is so great that you are teaching her both english and irish now when she is young....i work with international students & they say the first thing to go is usually the language (moreso when they are in another country obviously) but i really wish my family would have kept up the language & i have many italian friends who feel the same.

  2. I know what you mean. I thought it was a shame to waste the second language - Eve's dad speaks to her in English and I speak to her in Irish. It'll be cute when she starts speaking :)
    I would love to learn asl. I think some basic signs should be part of the curriculum.Being deaf is only really limiting when those around you can't understand.

  3. Baby signing is brilliant, so much research to say it brings on speech. The only thing is, if you are based in ireland, the signs on that sheet are not based on ISL. In ireland we use Irish Sign Language ( ISL), ASL would not be of much use to you here. Superhands ireland are doing baby sign based on ISL. i am in no way affiliated to them, I;m a speech and language therapist, but just so you know the signs you are using seem to be either BSL or ASL based.

  4. Thanks a mil for the info! Good to know :)

  5. I made these to introduce sign language to my kiddies (at work!) http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=212263558813211&set=a.212263008813266.60152.200845296621704&type=3&theater

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.