16 answers

Baby Sign Language - Grand Rapids,MI

Im interested in starting baby sign language with my 5 month old. Has anyone ever done this? I read you are supposed to start at 6 months but I was just wondering if anyone who might have tried it had started at a different age or might be able to offer some general advice about it.

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I did sign language with all three of my girls with my oldest I started at 6 mo like the books say to, but with my other two I started when they could start to understand and talk back to ne with my third she was about 4 mos old when she started asking for milk, so I would start when you think is best.
Char

baby sign language is awesome, we did it with my daughter and she responded really well. We only picked a few signs at a time ( food sleep etc.) and I forced my husband to learn them with me and use them while talking to her. at first nothing happened, but after about a month or 2 she started using them (correctly) to tell us what she wanted...she's also an early talker (i think it helps develope that part of the brain faster). the signs we used were from a little lamenated cardboard pamphlet and we let her have it to play with so she looked at the signs all day long~ good luck, it really makes life easier~~~

More Answers

I did the baby sign language with my son and began around 4 months. It never hurts to begin early. It took a while for Trevor to respond, but he always paid close attention and just "took it all in". Finally...boom, he began signing back. But before he signed back, he always understood my signs and responded accordingly. Don't think it's not working if the child doesn't sign back. And, don't make them sign back if they don't want. They are learning the signs and will respond when they're ready.
I bought the book, Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo. I like the book. I used the signs for lots of things but mostly necessities like "drink, eat, sleep, hurt (that's an important one), more, all done..." Start only with the basics and gradually build. The book will help direct you.
I gradually phased out the signs when his language really picked up, but some professionals recommend staying with the sign language and just add words. That makes sense.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. He was very entertaining when he become proficient with the signs and other people were very impressed. It really reduced his frustrations while learning to communicate. And it helped me when he was able to tell me that his ear hurt at one year of age. He ended up with an ear infection with no other signs of fever..etc. What a great thing!!
Oh, and everyone else is right...you have to be consistent. I taught the babysitter the signs too. It must be reinforced by everyone in your child's life.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.-

My husband and I are signing with our daughter right now and it has been great! We started signing with her when she was about 8 months old, but many families start from day one. It all depends on you and your family. Just know that the sooner you start signing, the sooner they will USUALLY sign back.

We use the Baby Signs(R) program and when I started looking at programs I loved this one so much that I decided to become an independent instructor for it. I would love to talk to you (or anyone else that is interested) if you would like further information. You can also go to my website, www.familieslearntogether.com to get information on the program, upcoming classes, etc.

Where are you located at?

J.

I experimented with it, but found it to be of little use. I was usually so in tune with my son's body language, that I knew what he wanted before he could communicate it. I could see it being of some use if you are trying to make sure that your child can sign when they are older, like if you know a hearing impaired person that your child should know how to communicate with.

I used just a few signs to get things across, like more, milk, eat, juice. He is 17 months and still uses them. I have noticed that he still isn't talking alot because he can get across what he wants with sign, but my dr said eventually he will catch up.

We started signing with our son when he was around 8 or 9 months. It took him a few weeks before he started signing back to us, but once he did he just took off with it. It has been great for us! It has allowed him to communicate things to us that he wouldn't have been able to otherwise. He's now 22 months and is now talking our ears off. He has stopped using most of his signs - instead saying the words - but there are still a few of his favorite signs that he still does as he says the word. I imagine he'll completely drop all the signs within the next few months as his verbal language continues to develop. It has been a great "bridge" to get us through the time where he couldn't talk, but still wanted/needed to communicate with us. It definitely has cut down on a lot of frustration that would have surely occurred had he not had a way to communicate with us. I highly recommend it.

Good luck!

Hello A.,

I do signing in my daycare I took a class on it as well. They say that a good time to start it is around 8 months. You may not see anything receptive till later on. But you will be suprised how much frustration and anger can be alleviated when a child can express themselves in a way where they are understood.

It really does help before they are able to speak to have communication with you. It also reduces biting / hitting etc. I know with my daycare kids it really helps them and myself. I also watch special needs children and they are much happier when we can understand each other.

Below are some links where you can get some more information on baby signs. Start with one word at a time. I usually start with words like " more, please, up. People will tell you that it will hinder their speech. It actually will help them.

http://signwithme.com/002_browse_signs.asp

http://www.letteroftheweek.com/baby_sign_language.html

http://www.handspeak.com/

http://www.mybabycantalk.com/

Thing signing is a great way of communication. I have 2 boys 13 and 15 and when we are in the store and they are doing something i don't like. I can do the sign stop and they know. You can communicate to them things in a quiet calm manner. If we don't challenge them to communicate with you then that can set them back. When we always get what they want without requiring them to communicate, then they don't have a reason to.

It will take awhile to learn but you will be amazed one day when your child just out of the blue will sign to you. If you want more assistance you can email me offlist. I have child in my care who was adopted at age 3 has downs. I have had him since he moved to the USA. Within a 1 1/2 along with his mom we have been extremely successful in teaching him how to sign and communicate with words. I can communicate with him very well and he is such a happy and wonderful child. I have had numerous successes. One non-verbal child who has taken me 6 months he is 3. But he finally will say More, and signs it along with eat and please. It can't hurt to try it but you need to be consistant.

I did sign language with all three of my girls with my oldest I started at 6 mo like the books say to, but with my other two I started when they could start to understand and talk back to ne with my third she was about 4 mos old when she started asking for milk, so I would start when you think is best.
Char

I used a few signs with my older children and want to learn more so I can teach them to all of my kids. I am a very busy person with school, work, and keeping up the house. I believe that 6 months is the age recommended but you can start signing now when talking to her. You are letting her know what you are saying in 2 languages then.

S.

I just happened to be taking a sign language course in school when my daughter was a baby so I just started teaching her on my own. She picked it up really well and I still work with her. She is 4 now and whenever she says her alphabet, she automatically signs it at the same time and when she wants something I don't feel like getting, she asks for it in sign because she knows I'll fall for it.:) I don't remember how old she was when we started but she was very young. I think they can pick it up very early on. Repetition is the key. Sign the word you want to teach every time you say it. He'll pick it up.

My son is 2 1/2 and he doesn't talk much (more now than ever... but still not a ton). We used baby sign language with him because it was getting SO frustrating for all of us (him included).
The weird thing is - we started showing him simple ones like "more" and "drink" (probably about 10 different words)etc. when he was around 11 months or so... he never repeated them. Fast forward to after his first birthday - probably more like around 18 months (still not saying anything) and he all of a sudden started using them. With NO prompting from us.
My point is: even if you think your daughter may not be paying attention or absorbing what you are doing... she just might surprise you. Just keep repeating them and reinforcing them, one day she will just do it, trust me. You will be shocked at what they retain. We were!
Our son STILL uses signs to communicate with us. He is starting to rely more on words, but he definitely uses signs, too.
My biggest problem was finding a good, easy book to guide us through signs. We couldn't find any when we needed them. (We learned a lot of signs through Sesame Street of all things!) But it seems now that we don't need a book, I am seeing them *everywhere*!!
I think we started a LOT later than you are thinking about, and for different reasons - but I really think that young kids can pick it up, too.
Good luck - whatever you decide.

M.

I did this and its so much fun, I didn't set out to "teach " my daughter sign language, but to incorporate it into my total communication. I started signing to her the day she was born, the problem I had was I'm a chronic baby holder, it was very hard to sign when I always had a baby in my arms. So I didn't sign all that much with her until closer to her 2nd birthday. I wanted to sign with her as a second language, not just to communicate with me as a baby.
Because of that goal I was somewhat disappointed with many of the baby signing videos and instruction books cause the words were not always in ASL how I knew how to. A show I found quite by accident is "Signing Time," it's on PBS on Thursdays at 5pm. Your little one is to small to watch TV now but YOU will learn so much, I suggest you pop in a video tape and record it cause I'm pretty sure you are going to like it and want to watch it over and over again. (They play the 13 episode series in a loop and they are in the middle right now but it doesn't matter where you start.)
My daughter started signing about 6 months ago now and she has over 300 words in her signing vocabulary, she has taught all the kids in daycare how to sign many of them, she can sign much faster than I can and I have been signing for almost 20 years, (I’m a bit out of practice) and our church Christmas play asked if she would sign along with the Christmas song the preschoolers and kindergartners are singing. There is a high schooler in our church that also signs and my daughter loves sitting with her and just "talk". I really believe because she signs total sign language she is going to slip right into reading much easier than I ever did. She knows all her letters, can recognize them and can "fingerspell" them (my biggest struggle with signing) and can fingerspell short familiar words. (I can’t do that)
Signing is a great thing, even if you just want to use it only until your child is 18 months and can begin to talk, or if you want to continue forever just remember you are teaching your child a second language. Learning a second language has been linked to higher IQ scores, improved English and math scores, a richer vocabulary in spoken English and even a boost in those high school SAT tests. And that is a good thing. Signing is very easy, once you get a good decryption and explanation to the signs (like in that Signing Time show I suggested) you will pick up new words and remember them. I am going to go buy a few books in Signing instruction now, I didn’t like any of the baby ones but haven’t looked at any for the deaf community yet. If I find one that is easy to understand and has a large vocabulary I’ll let you know.
Good Luck and Have fun, I love signing so much cause its almost like a secret language. Not many people know it (which is a shame) my cousin and I used to use it to talk in church. (lol Her dad was the pastor and could also sign and always caught us, but it didn’t disrupt many others.) I hope you continue learning it after she talks so you too will have a secret language with your daughter.

Hi A.,

Sign language is very beneficial and lots of fun! I have used it with both my kids and now my three years old loves it. My nine month old just got the hang of one sign - "all done." It's great and he is so proud when I say what he signed. He really knows what it means!! It really helps to eliminate frustration, whining, and crying. And it in no way hinders vocal speech. Start with words like more, all done, please, etc. Mealtime words are very helpful and a good place to start. Be patient with her. It will take some time (we started at about 8 months). Choose a word or two to start with. Say it. Show it. Help her do it. And if its a word like "more," then give her more. She'll soon get the hang of it and know what it means. We have some dvd's that my daughter loves watching. The company is Two Little Hands Production and you can find it at signingtime.com. They have 13 dvd's, I think, and we have the first 6. They are very simple and use children in them. We enjoy them a lot! Good luck. I hope sign language is as beneficial for your family as it has been for ours!

I used it with my son who is now 20 months old and I feel that he was a much calmer child because of it. He was not trapped with no way to express his feelings and his language development (verbally) was very quick because he was not frustrated all the time.

Do you get WFUM or WKAR (PBS) on your tv? They have a program out called "Signing Time!" That my son absolutely loves. You might try it. There are also a few books about "Baby Signs". But technically even if you don't use the ASL sign you could still make up whatever you want as long as you will recognize what he wants when he does it. And no, it is never too young to start signing to your child while you are saying the word. It may be a few months before he can do the sign beck, but that will just be one more jump for him developmentally when he finally does get the motor skills and can do it back, he will already know it.
Good luck!
C.

I took a class with my son when he was about 9mos. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunatly I work so we didn't use the signs enough to get him to sign back.

baby sign language is awesome, we did it with my daughter and she responded really well. We only picked a few signs at a time ( food sleep etc.) and I forced my husband to learn them with me and use them while talking to her. at first nothing happened, but after about a month or 2 she started using them (correctly) to tell us what she wanted...she's also an early talker (i think it helps develope that part of the brain faster). the signs we used were from a little lamenated cardboard pamphlet and we let her have it to play with so she looked at the signs all day long~ good luck, it really makes life easier~~~

Hi! I feel that signing is a great thing and wish that more people did it with their children. I have a daycare in my home and teach it to them. I also have a 3 yr old daughter that I have signed with. The early you start the early your child will respond. Just don't get discourgaged it will come. And remember to always say the word as you are signing. That way it builds the verbal communiction skills as well. Good Luck! This is the site that I have gotten my information from, signingtime.com , she started this when she found out that her daughter was deaf and wanted to help friends and family to be able to communicate with her. Then it grew into this whole series for children of all ages to get the theirs met in a more producitve manner. If you have any question just get a hold of me!

From time to time the PBS station has started showing the signing time shows. So check your listings. I live in lansing and it is on channel 23 usually around 12:00

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