Thursday, January 10, 2013

Signing with Your Child and Simple Lives

Last night I posted on my personal facebook page suggesting that parents sign with their children because it has been so helpful for us. I was inspired to post it because Ellie was able to communicate that she wanted a change in our nightly routine.  After dinner we usually go straight to bath, but dinner was a little late last night and Ellie's nap was a little early. Since she was obviously tired I thought we'd just have a super-short bath and skip reading a book before going right to bed.  After she gets down from the table I always ask her to go to the bathroom so we can have a bath and she usually goes without hesitation since she loves bath time and knows the routine.  But last night she headed directly to her bedroom, so I asked her if she didn't want to have a bath.  She doesn't really get "yes" and "no" yet so I offered her a choice, something I do regularly.  I asked her if she wanted a bath or sleep and she replied sleep, so I asked her again and got the same answer.  I changed her into her pajamas and she went right to bed.
A few of my friends asked about how we do sign so I thought I'd share about it here in a short and sweet post.  I don't claim any expertise, but seek to share our experience. Signing has been invaluable to us and I can't encourage new parents enough to give it a try. To keep it simple I'm using bullet points. Please chime in in the comments with your experience or any questions you might have!
  • Start early. We started signing with Ellie around six
     months. She didn't produce anything until much later but she started to understand early on.  
  • Sign what you say.  There are lots of great lists of basic signs for baby (here's one that has links for many of the most common signs) but you should focus on signing content words (nouns and verbs) that you use often. We started with "milk" "more" and "all done" since we were just starting solids when we started to sign.  Always say the word while you sign it so baby learns both. 
  • Be consistent.  We found personally that the more we signed to Ellie the more quickly she would pick it up.  It was very easy for me to be consistent with her because I was usually in charge of her meals so my husband had to make a concerted effort to be sure to always sign when he used our important words.  Choose one signing resource as your reference and stick with it. We used ASL and this online dictionary.  You can make up your own signs that are easier for you and your child.  Be sure to share them with your care provider so your child doesn't get frustrated. 
  • Be patient. It can take a while for kids to break the code, but they will.  Ellie signed for almost a full month before she spoke a single word. We were so thrilled that she was able to communicate with us.  Interestingly the first words she signed back were not the first words she spoke.
  • Be flexible.  Chances are your baby will not sign back to you exactly the way you signed to them.  Children create their own signs. As long as they work it's perfectly fine!
  • Have fun. Signing with your child is such a delight, but it can be easy to get caught up wanting them to sign more or sign "correctly".  Enjoy the glimpse into your child's developing brain and accept their progress as it happens. I was sort of surprised at how long it took Ellie to get the sign for "milk" because she is getting breastmilk many times a day and I was signing it to her each time, but it just took her longer than a few other signs. It may be because it's sort of difficult to articulate, but who knows. 
  • Do what you can. Remember that signing is not all or nothing. You don't have to do any more signs than you want to. "More" and "all done" have been so helpful to us.  
We have so enjoyed being able to listen to Ellie. I can't recommend signing to your baby highly enough.  
Here's a funny video of Ellie showing of a few of her signs. Typical toddler behavior right here, but you get to see her modifications of the signs. They're probably not very easy for you to recognize but,  just like spoken words, it's easy to recognize your own child's signs. 

For fun, a blooper. Here's what happens when you ask a toddler to perform.  OVER IT! She gets a little mad in the end because the computer fell asleep and she couldn't see herself anymore.

Tell me, did you sign with your little ones? How did it go? I hear it becomes even more helpful when they hit two or three.
Finally, it's Thursday so I have some posts about keeping things simple for you. Please check out last week's featured posts and this week's linkup after the jump.

compost bin
1. Use Pallets to Build Your Own Double Compost Bin for under $15 by Old World Garden Farms . "There are few things that can make your garden more successful than compost. " IMG_0061
2. Beef And Bean Wedges... or Pizza? by Homemaking Beyond Maintenance. "Last night I made up a recipe we liked. It's a keeper and a very easy quick meal." drinking glasses
3.Solve the Problem of Dirty Drinking Glasses by Everything Home With Carol. "Ever have your counter look like this in the afternoon? Mine does. But I have an idea to help solve the problem of dirty drinking glasses."


Foy Update said...

My daughter is just 7 months old and we've been signing since 5.5 when we started letting her play with foods. She's just now starting to eat them. (We are doing the baby led weening thing.) We use the sign for food, more and all done.

The only one I have seen her do is all done and unfortunately we didn't get it right away. Funny enough it looks a lot like Ellie's. She holds her arms straight out while opening and closing her hands. She reliably does it when she is done eating in her highchair. The hard part is she now does it while we are still eating dinner and I don't want to not acknowledge her sign, but I want her to sit with us for the full meal. I decided when she does sign all done to wipe her hands and mouth, clear her tray but keep her at the table until the end of the meal.

I like your idea of using sleep and bath. I'll have to add those in.

Alicia said...

Foy, introducing solids is a great time to introduce signing. We found that Ellie started using "more" and "all done" to generally mean affirmative and negative, which was so helpful in those times! She would say "more" if she wanted something, especially food, and "all done" if she didn't. Very useful.
We did BLW too and I keep meaning to write a post about it. I think it goes way beyond just skipping purees and is the best way for parents to introduce a healthy relationship with food.
Don't chide yourself too much for missing her sign. I've come to accept that motherhood is a long string of failures and an exercise in forgiving myself and accepting her forgiveness.
Elle eats more quickly than we do, too, and I usually just wipe her down and bring a toy or book to the table. That way she's still involved in the meal.
Fern is just the cutest, by the way!

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