By Marcia Bruce, Baby Signing Time Instructor
Originally posted on Calgary Is Signing, MARCH 18, 2016
REASON 1: Baby signing gives you the gift of communication
I’ll start with the main reason baby sign language is so fantastic. It gives you the gift of communication with your little one before she can actually talk. No surprise there, right? This benefit is probably listed on every baby signing site out there – babies have control of their hands and can sign before they master the use of their voices. However, you don’t know how magical it is until you see it in action with your own child. It is the first time she signs “more” and you say, “You want more?”, and her eyes light up because she realizes that you understood her, or later, when she is a toddler and you are trying to understand what she’s saying because so many words sound the same when she is learning to talk. My daughter is 20 months old right now and “Daddy”, “Kitty”, and “Birdy” all sound the same. When she realizes I am not understanding her verbal words, she gives me a quick sign and I say, “Oh, you want kitty?” and she exclaims, “Yeah!” like, thank goodness you finally understand me, mom! Tantrum averted thanks to her signs – magic!
REASON 2: Baby signing helps make you be more present
Baby sign language can make you more present and aware as a parent. It can magically transport you into your baby’s world. It happened with all three of my kids. I would be walking down the sidewalk, in my own head, while pushing the stroller. All of a sudden I would see a hand flailing in the stroller and baby patting his leg frantically. I look across at the other sidewalk and there is a dog. I didn’t notice the dog across the street, and I certainly wouldn’t have known that my one-year-old could see the dog way over there, but all of a sudden I am brought back to the moment and I strike up a conversation about the dog. “Oh, I see the puppy too.” “Nice puppy.” “Is that a white dog?” And what do I get back from the stroller? Squeals of delight because we are communicating. Once baby knows you are listening, you will be amazed at what he wants to tell you about his world.
REASON 3: Baby sign language allows baby to tell you when he needs to use the potty!
Once baby knows you are listening and that you can understand her, do you know what she might want to tell you? That she has to use the potty! That is right. How magical is it to have a way for baby to tell you that they have to use the potty? Even if she isn’t consistent at first, every time she tells you she needs to go it is one less messy diaper that you will have to change. I feel like baby sign language has saved us a fortune on laundry during our cloth diaper phase, and money on diapers during our disposable diaper phase. With all three of my kids, their ability to tell me when they needed to use the potty when they were under two years old (and even under one) wasn’t perfect, but it sure was awesome every time they used the potty instead of going in their diaper. Because they were so comfortable with the potty and were already good at listening to their body, it made potty training much easier.
REASON 4: Baby signing can make you stop to smell the roses, literally
Last summer when my daughter was just over a year old, she made us stop and smell the flowers ALL THE TIME! She could spot flowers anywhere, whether we were walking with her in the stroller, wearing her in the baby carrier at the local Safeway for groceries, or even buckling her into her car seat in a random parking lot, she would start signing “flower” and I would melt. No matter what we were doing I would stop and take the time to walk over to the flowers to let her touch them or smell them. It always brought a smile to my face and to anyone around. She still appreciates flowers today and I will be sad if she loses her love of flowers, but I know that I will always remember to stop and appreciate them the way she trained me to. The magic here, isn’t necessarily the flowers, it is the memories that you will make and cherish forever.
REASON 5: Baby sign language is the gift that keeps giving – you don’t have to stop signing once talking begins!
My boys are 5 & 7 years old now, and although they can talk clearly, there are times when they still sign. This first example is my favorite: We sign “I love you” in our house multiple times a day. Whether it is a quick flash of the sign across the room, or as part of waving good-bye, the “I love you” sign is a regular thing for all of us. The last thing I see as my son’s bus leaves, taking him to school in the morning, is the “I love you” sign through his bus window, and my “I love you” sign to him is the last thing he sees. My boys also tend to use signs when they are scared or uncomfortable. For example, we all know that it can be hard sometimes to say sorry. Saying sorry seems to be made a little easier when you can sign it. When they have done something wrong, my boys will often start with a little “sorry” sign to open the communication. Also, all three of my kids know that Mommy is a sucker for the “please” sign, so in our house, in addition to the puppy dog eyes and the sweet buttery voices, when they want something, they add in a little “please” sign to up their game. Even my husband and I use sign language with each other now. It has just become another part of how our family communicates, our magical language that lets us communicate, encourage, and love, even from across the room.
I feel so lucky that my husband and I decided to sign with our kids. We both have so many happy memories (and pictures and videos) of our journey. I feel so passionate about the magic of baby signing that I started my own company to teach other families to sign. If you are interested in learning more about baby sign language, check out my website:www.calgaryissigning.com or come and follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CalgaryIsSigning. If you love baby sign language as much as I do, I would love to hear about the magic and memories that you have experienced while signing with your little ones. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a try. I promise you won’t regret it!
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