I’m pretty sure we’ve all got the same critical, history-making subject on our minds right now, and that is this: why the hell did I sign up for NaNoBloMo when it requires me to post on ELECTION DAY FOR CHRISSAKES.

Okay, I’m renaming it Baby Stuck in a Hanger Day, because then this photo will be all topical and shit:

3004157248_ebf5e5404a.jpg

So Dylan started clapping a while back and now he claps when he hears the word “clapping”. I can’t remember when or if Riley did this but I have of course decided that Dylan is a total brainiac, possibly even some sort of gifted child, despite the fact that he routinely chokes on his own index finger.

I was never particularly interested in baby signing when Riley was little but now I’ve checked out all these books and am determined to teach Dylan how to communicate with us, being as how he’s a genius and all. So far his only response is a curious stare during mealtimes when I say “MILK! MIIIIIIILK!” while making the sign for milk, which is sort of an udder-squeezing gesture that frankly is a tiny bit dirty looking, if you were to picture replacing the invisible teat with . . . well, nevermind.

Anyway, hilariously enough it’s Riley who really digs the baby sign language, and if you don’t mind me insinuating that both my children are clearly destined for MENSA, he’s got some of these signs down. Sure, he’s not exactly a nonverbal infant, but you should see him making the sign for cat! Why, you can practically see the whiskers he’s pantomiming.

Plus, we’ve started making our own family signs. 3-year-old behaving as though his brain has been replaced by an angry swarm of bees, complete with eardrum-rupturing levels of whining? He’s crabby (stick both arms out to your sides, clamp hands open and closed in a crab-claw motion). Husband once again places his cereal bowl casually on the kitchen counter instead of opening the freaking dishwasher which could only be more conveniently located if he ate breakfast INSIDE it? He’s a poophead (squat into chair pose, grunt, then pat the top of your head while staring meaningfully at the cereal-bowl transgressor).

I don’t know if we’ll keep up with it or not, but it’s kind of fun so far. Did any of you do baby signing? Did you think it was useful?

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Felicia
Felicia
13 years ago

We did baby signing, but we only did a few choice ones (milk, food, drink, more, please, thank you, and potty). That really worked for us – except the potty sign. He never did that one. (And now that he is verbal, he doesn’t tell us when he needs to go either. GAH.)

I have a friend with a son of a similar age as mine – she took him to signing classes once a week for basically his whole life and he knows like 300 signs or something. But… (and this works for their family so I am not condemning it) he does not talk verbally. All he does is sign. I personally prefer my approach, obviously, but to each their own…

Sharon
Sharon
13 years ago

We did do signing with both of our children. I wasn’t faithful with it and we only got some of the basics (eat, drink, please & thank you, more… more… more… more and god damn more!) It did seem to keep the full blown food melt downs to only 30 or so a day from the 6,000,000 before signing was introduced.

Sonia
Sonia
13 years ago

We still use sign language. :) My kiddo is mostly non-verbal because his expressive language is very delayed, so our need for it is a little different now that he’s almost 8. (!!!!) But as a baby he had a few signs, and it was SO helpful. Every time he learns a new sign now, it decreases his frustration with his language delays tenfold. He’s made up quite a few too, that we then had to teach his speech language pathologist. Lol! “Oh yes, THAT means “STFU, you’re driving me NUTS!”. ;) Ha!

Momma
Momma
13 years ago

We did it too. Don’t let anyone tell you it will cause speech delay – it won’t and they if they think so they are full of horsecrap.

Also, don’t worry about doing them the “right” way. We had a modified “more” it is what worked for us, dh & I knew what it meant – that is what counts, to know what they are saying.

Have fun!

dani
dani
13 years ago

i have a friend that actually teaches baby signing. she found it INCREDIBLY useful; her baby was slow in developing (not like your brainiacs) because she had a fused spine and all sorts of things that give moms nightmares. so the signing was REALLY, REALLY good.
i also think my friend could get her kids to tell her when they were thirsty or poopy or whatever when they were too young to talk. which, i guess is the point, huh?
duh. clearly i am not a mom, and also not so much the brainiac.

Swistle
13 years ago

My mom is all into baby signing, so she taught the twins some signs, but by the time they’d learned the signs they were learning words—like, literally the same week. But Henry (17 months) picked up on the sign for milk a long time before he could say it, and uses it to mean “drink.” And what’s funny is that it morphed into snapping his fingers instead of squeezing an udder. So he’s like, “Snap, snap, get me a cold beverage, woman!”

Jamie
13 years ago

I have to say I love me some signing. My daughter is four now and still remembers some of it. Total lifesaver for awhile, though. I highly recommend the Signing Times videos. Actually, we still watch them occasionally…. Ivy digs the music. ;)

Amy Pollak
Amy Pollak
13 years ago

I think this is my first time commenting, though I’ve been reading for quite some time.

We taught our now 4 year old some of the basic signs and had an extremely positive experience. He actually ended up being an EARLY talker, especially for a boy. So I don’t buy that it can cause speech delay either – in fact I tend to think it can have the opposite effect. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s a total brainiac too. :)

hannah
hannah
13 years ago

Nathan invented his own baby signs, ignoring or changing the ones I tried to teach him. What’s great is that he still invents them (his “sandwich” is genius) but also now sometimes makes them up as he learns to say a word. (He learned to say “bubble” as he made up a sign- pretending to blow his finger in lieu of a bubble wand.) I do think it’s helped him make the connection as to what language is.

warcrygirl
13 years ago

My husband is allergic to our dishwasher. He’s completely bamboozled by it but then again he doesn’t have to do housework. “That’s why I have you, hon!” And yeah, he’s still breathing.

Jennifer
Jennifer
13 years ago

Thoes toesies are begging to be nommed!

I don’t have any children, but signing sounds like a good idea to me. Anything to make communicating with a squawling baby easier, I think.

My husband and I use sign language to communicate too, mostly by using our middle fingers. I KID.

rebecca
13 years ago

We LOVED it…we only used a few…milk and more and hungry and please and thank you, maybe a couple more. and it was AWESOME for those pre-talking months.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

I have a deaf cousin and have known basic signing for most of my life. It never really occured to me to teach my son to sign because he was verbal so we just practiced enunciating A LOT. There was a lot of,”Look at my lips, not doooce, JEWWWWSE. Spelled with a J. Remember J? J says Juh.”

Honestly I was exhausted of my own voice by the time he was two-ish but he is a fairly articulate 10 year old who reads at almost a 7th grade level…maybe it was dumb luck but I like to think we had at least a teeny part in it…

My sister taught her son Sign and Spanish along with English and he was over three years old before he could talk without needing her to interpret for him.

A general interaction with him was him pointing at the dog saying agua and doing the sign for milk and me like “WTF? Is he calling the dog milk?” and my sister saying “No of course not he’s saying he wants to know if he can give the dog some water.”

So, I guess what I’m saying is, I’d do it if my kid already had a speech delay or was hard to understand. Otherwise,I wouldn’t add it to the mix until their speech is already developed.

Amber
Amber
13 years ago

Didn’t mean to be anon. Not that it matters I guess…

RA
RA
13 years ago

Uhh, I’m not sure I get the “crab” sign. Maybe a video would help? :)

Lindy
13 years ago

Did baby signing w/ my daughter but had to give it up. She started crawling early and would not sit still during the class. YES it was a class w/ singing and signing. I told myself I would keep it up and I did a little bit. She still uses the signs for hot, cold, baby and milk.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

I’m giving a sort of half-assed head-fake but you motivated me to get better about it. I have to learn poophead! We do milk, eat, drink, mommy, daddy, hot, bath, cat and dog (although at the moment I cannot remember what the hell the sign for DOG is).
So yeah, we do a few. Perhaps I should just make up my own, maybe then I’ll remember to USE them.

Clueless But Hopeful Mama

I studied ASL in college a bit and found it fascinating. We taught Zoe (now 2 and half) about 20 signs and found them EXTREMELY useful. I noticed that my friends’ kids often screamed to communicate that they wanted “more” or were “all done” while Zoe could silently tell me those same things. SILENTLY. Can I get an AMEN.

My biggest advice is to help them make the signs themselves. We did the signs in front of Zoe while saying the words for months and when we finally shaped her little fist into the right shape, said the word, did the sign ourselves and then followed through (gave her “more” etc.). It worked like a charm in just a few days.

MomBabe
13 years ago

Yeah, I didn’t really GET that I had to post every day when I signed up and it’s totally kicking my trash FOUR DAYS IN. Okay, not really. But still, can I have Thanksgiving off? I mean, there’s a PARADE that day and everything.

Melanie
13 years ago

We used the baby signs for our first and loved it, we thought it helped us communicate with her. She was very fast on her gross motor skills so we thought it would be a good idea to help her communicate with us. It worked out well and once she got the hang of it she learned signs very quickly. We are about to start signs with our 2nd, if I would remember to do it!

Carrie
Carrie
13 years ago

We took our son to Baby Signs classes. I think he was a little too young when we started, but by the time he was 12 months he had picked up the important signs (“eat”, “more”, “all done”, etc.). He is now 20 months old, still uses some signs (but now says the word along with the sign), and is speaking in 4 and 5 word sentences.

Angella
13 years ago

We signed with all three, but mostly the basics. Eat, milk, water, please, thank you…

I have a friend who used OVER FIFTY signs with her son.

Not me. I’m lazy.

Jessica
13 years ago

We only did 5 signs with my son (eat, milk, more, all done and night-night/sleep) but those were the most important ones! That was really all he needed. Like Amy commented above, it did not delay his speech at all – he was also an early talker. He said his first word (“duck!”) at nine months. I never bothered to teach him the sign for duck. ;-) Anyway, it really was great to be able to communicate basic needs with him before he was able to talk clearly and consistently. Now he says words like “destination” and “sculpture”, and he’s only two and a half!

Caitlin
13 years ago

My aunt and uncle did it with my cousins when they were babies. It proved to be very useful both then AND when they were older. Even when they were 4, 5, 6, etc. they would still use their signs on occasion when they were exhausted/tired/cranky/quiet. It was awesome, because when normally kids wouldn’t be able to (or just wouldn’t want to) communicate what they wanted or needed, they were able to do so successfully rather than just freaking out and throwing a tantrum.

My aunt and uncle are not that much older than me and I lived with them right out of college with my little cousins…so I got to witness this myself and it was enough for me to decide to teach it to my kids, if ever I have them.

I also have a friend who did it with her baby, and it worked very well. In this limited experience, I’ve learned that (as commenters above had said) kids will often invent/bastardize signs into their own versions. Still works though.

Nikki
Nikki
13 years ago

I used sign language with my middle son when he was a baby because he was non-verbal until he was almost 2.5 yrs old. He has Asperger’s Syndrome (sort of high functioning Autism) and it was the ONLY way I was able to get him to communicate. It also helped to dramatically decrease the amount of tantrums and meltdowns he was having.
A lifesaver!! He’s much improved now, hardly shuts up :) but still remembers some of those signs.

meagan
13 years ago

i used signing with my baby starting around 6 or 7 months and she now knows: milk, moon, more, eat, sleep, juice and cracker. i found them very helpful when she could sign to me what she needed before she could control her voice to say it. she is a normal developing baby and it wasn’t necessary but i wanted to do it to cut down on frustration and help her communicate faster. she’s very bright; partially from the signing i believe. she is now 22 months and chatters all the time so it didn’t slow down her speech. of course i still encourage language too. also u should use the http://www.dunstanbaby.com/ SO super helpful to me as a first time mom. it gives u simple sounds ur baby 0-3months makes and u can understand what they are needing. very cool and it worked.

Stella
13 years ago

I tried it for a while, but after gesticulating wildly at a totally uncomprehending baby for months, I realized the only signs she was going to learn were ‘Crazy,’ ‘Wanker,’ and ‘Go F yourself.’

denese
13 years ago

longtime reader delurking for one of my most passionate subjects, baby signing! also of course i have to say jeezy creezy, that dylan and the dimples and the toes and the hanger. yum.

anyway, i worked with infants aged 8 weeks to 2 years for 4 years and have a degree in early childhood education. i cannot truly express just how much i appreciate your newfound vigor and therefore knowledge-spreading for the baby sign language. even if dylan only picks up and uses one sign, the concept will most likely extend to other aspects of his development such as less tantrums in the toddler stage. or, that’s what i’m going to keep telling myself, as i’ve already started signing to my 2 1/2 month old daughter. i show her “all done” after every diaper change and she just stares at me…we’re taking it slow.

i nannied for a family, starting when their daughter was 16 months old and had about 5 vocal words, but mostly made the same grating/gurgly throat noise for EVERYTHING to the point where they were worried about her language development. i used signs for most everything i could and after a month, she was signing back a ton AS WELL AS starting to say the words out loud. i stopped working for them when the girl was 2, and she is a model communicator. i am a miracle worker and deserve a medal. i mean, little kids are really elastic and responsive!

i will tell you that all the kids i’ve known who have been exposed to, learned, and consistently used a basic working sign vocabulary (eat, more, all done, help, etc.) turned out to be generally calmer and nicer than the ones who have not, based on their ability to get their needs and wants met quicker and more effectively. that said, other kids just couldn’t give less of a shit about signing and end up communicating beautifully with everyone around them despite their caregivers signing.

good luck!

Lori
13 years ago

My best friend taught her twins a number of signs before they spoke. They used them frequently and it didn’t impede their speech development. The most amazing thing for me though was that the kids reverted to the signs sometimes when they were feeling shy or nervous. One time the boy hit me in the face, intentionally, and very hard. He was speaking by then, but he was ashamed and couldn’t bring himself to say sorry. I looked at him and realized he was signing sorry emphatically while looking so sad. I felt like it was a great thing for him to be able to communicate what he wanted to when he couldn’t say it out loud.

queermom
queermom
13 years ago

as a mom and a behaviour therapist working in an early intervention program with children with autism, i totally agree with teaching baby sign. the key points being ‘teaching the power of communication’ and giving language to babies before they’re able to talk. my son ‘read’ sign more than ever using it himself. he signed milk and cat very early and at 8 months signed cat and said ‘kitty-cat’. always pairing the sign with the word verbally, helps to demonstrate the meaning too. my son spoke very early…at 1.5 he said ‘one mommy, one mama…two moms!’ whereas a friend told me she didn’t differentiate between the people in her daughter’s life since she ‘couldn’t label at that age anyhow’

Hotch Potchery
13 years ago

Nope no baby signing for us…but the crabby sign you describe…as a family we have used it for YEARS to aptly describe Mr. P.

Elizabeth
13 years ago

When my baby first signed “milk” at about 11 months, I was surprised, since I hadn’t ever been very consistent with it. But it was great since she wasn’t talking yet. We started adding in more, and now I’m so glad we did, because at 22 months she is still not talking, but with 75 signs (some of which she made up), she is able to communicate what she needs and tell me about the pictures she sees in books, and even seems to use them to just tell me something she’s thinking about, like our plane trip over the weekend. She even will string 3 or 4 together to make a sentence.

We use this dictionary to look up signs: http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm. I have also heard great things about Signing Time.

catdoggg
catdoggg
13 years ago

We did it to, starting around 9 months I would say the word and make the sign during meals. Lots of opportunities to use the eat, more, and milk sign. MIL thought it was some sort of radical idea, until she saw it in action. I would much rather get my son the drink or cracker he wants, than listen to him wail as I try to figure out hungry? thirsty? hurt? dirty diaper?
Nothing but love for baby signs here. I’m sure your library will have books about it, mine had baby board books that we used later on to introduce new signs.

catdoggg
catdoggg
13 years ago

Oh yeah, check the library for the signing times videos too, they are kind of pricey.

Bunny
13 years ago

We did some signs with both of ours. It seems to take a long time for them to learn the sign and be able to use it meaningfully. (Long as in I’m pretty lazy and like instant gratification-the same way CIO [gasp!] takes much longer than you want it to) With both we really only did a few helpful signs: more, all done, up, milk. That was about all we needed. The cutest thing is when they really “get it” and use the signs out of the original context: usually we used “more” and “all done” at meal time, but it’s really cool when they use the signs in other contexts like when Daddy is tickling, they would sign more. Or when they want to leave signing all done.
Also-most of our signs morphed into baby-driven “slang”. The sign for “up” became a pat on the top of his head for my son. “all done” looked like a batter was safe. SO some of your grown up signs may stick :)

Erika
13 years ago

Our oldest son learned it just from watching the Baby Einstein “My First Signs” DVD. We never did it to him but he used it to communicate with us. It was wonderful. Now he’s two and occasionally still uses the signs (plus he was a late talker, so it was great that he had SOME way to communicate) so the best part of that is other people thinking our kid is a genius (and his parents too).

Cassie
13 years ago

I love your sign for poophead LOL. We have been thinking about teaching our son some signs but haven’t really started yet.

tash
13 years ago

Love the poophead sign too.

That is just an adorable photograph. How do you not just bite him all day long?

I didn’t know about the signing when my Stinker was a baby, 10 whole years ago – wow time flies. But if/when (hopefully) I have more kids I’ll definitely be trying it out.

Deanna
Deanna
13 years ago

love them! 1st born autistic child only did a handful (resisted all attempts), 2nd born late talker (who now will not SHUT UP!) was a signing pro and the almost now 1.5 yr old is up to about a dozen signs.

Start with what you see- we have cats and fish so those were the first signs (after MORE, of course). But simplified. Cat she does by sort of a scratching by her cheek/ear area. And fish is one hand sideways floppy wave.

I think we do them one handed because we are often holding her when demonstrating them. More, hat, cat, fish, dog (we do the snapping of the fingers sign), where?, plane, all done, poopy (which i think is the sign for pig – 1 finger pushes on the nose, squinch up the face and breathe like you smell the poop), bird – those are down pat. We are working on duck, lion, bear and cow (but that would be the Uof Tx lognhorn handsign instead of sign language cow sign :)).
Deanna
ps: dvr signing times from pbs – al my kids like it!

Korinna
13 years ago

Please be cautious when watching the Baby Signing Time DVDs. The songs have all of the addictive components of crack.

I have been known to burst out with a, “These are the pets I love, these are the pets I love. CAT CAT CAT CAT MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW.”–in the middle of meeting.

wn
wn
13 years ago

Linda,

We are signing with our kid (about a month younger than Dylan) and its pretty incredible that he’s actually starting to GET it. For the first time last night….he banged his hands together while howling “HHMMHMMHM”…he really was telling us MORE…and it was totally ON PURPOSE…WILD

We checked out several books and got ALOT of recommendations for this one, which we bought, and like alot!

http://www.babynamestats.com/babysigns.html

Joanne
13 years ago

I sign with both my kids, but I use ASL and I always recommend to friends that they use it too. That way you are teaching them another language that they can maybe use in the future. I didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if I’m repeating but I LOVE the Signing Time DVD’s. We bought the first one “My First Signs” and then we started taping the show, which shows on our PBS station on Saturday mornings. We have like 40 of them on our DVR and we love them. LOVE. My son is autistic, as I feel I have mentioned here 1,000 times so I apologize for the repetition again (ha), and it has been so incredibly useful for us during his language development delays. Plus they are so fun and the songs are great and they show children of all kinds of different ability levels, which I think is good for my kids.

One of the recommendations made to me when I started was that you start signing with food because that way you’ll do it a few times a day. You only say “eat” when they’re starting and then you sign “more” for the rest of the meal. I am a huge advocate of it, obviously, and it thrills me no end to see my little girl signing more in the same (wrong) way her brother did. It’s super cute!

AKLadyJ
AKLadyJ
13 years ago

Signing has totally saved our lives. My son is two and has no real words yet (he has Down Syndrome, so to be expected), but he can communicate via his signs and we have little to no frustration on his part. The Signing Time DVDs were a big help in teaching it (wow, this comments section is great free marketing for them!), and I bet if you ask at the daycare they will use a few of the simple ones with him for consistency (I see signing as the norm at most daycare centers). Can’t recommend it enough.

H
H
13 years ago

My brother and sister-in-law teach signing to their children and one thing I would recommend is letting people know they know signing, and what signs they know. My 1 year old niece spent the weekend with us and we had some struggles with her, particularly at meal time. When her parents picked her up, we realized she’d been signing to us (“more” “milk”) and we had no idea. Poor kid!

Marnie
Marnie
13 years ago

When our now 9 year old twin grandsons were born, their mother spoke German to them, the rest of us English. We all signed. The boys are now completely bilingual and never experienced language delay in either language. We are convinced it was because of the early signing. One early episode I remember that would be a good argument for learning simple signs—before the boys could talk, one of them was extremely cranky. The other boy signed, “cry” the crier signed “hurt” near his ear. He was taken to the doctor who diagnosed the beginning of an ear infection.

Shelley
13 years ago

Not a comment about signing but…

NaBloPoMo or NaNoBloMo

Is there a difference? I say the former. I’m signed up too, third year running, weekly theme days work wonders for keeping me on track.

Jenn Perryman
13 years ago

Actually, daycare taught my kid the signs for milk, no thank you, thank you, please, more, all done, and hungry. We’ve used them at home when we remember. He’s almost two and pretty on-track with speech, with a vocabulary around 150 words or so, I guess. What I find funny is now, if he thinks we don’t understand what he wants (e.g. more Halloween candy) he’ll sign more to us just to make sure we “get it.”

Cheri
Cheri
13 years ago

My sister does signing with their 1.5 year old, and like a lot of people here – they just taught her the basics – please, thank you, more, water, hungry. It is AMAZING and they are so glad they did it. Their daughter’s able to communicate with them pretty effortlessly, and you’re not stuck thinking “WHAAAAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT ALREADY???” when they get crabby.

Lisa
Lisa
13 years ago

My husband thinks ‘loading the dishwasher’ means getting me drunk…

reviewstew
13 years ago

We did baby signing, just 6-8 important words, like some of the other folks are saying. Really keeps the frustration level down when trying to figure out all the possible reasons the munchkin might be crying for one thing. Maybe gave her a sense of responsibility for her own happiness (though I’m not convinced a 6-month-old brain is really getting that). Biggest thing is that I think helped her get verbal and literate earlier – that symbolic processing part of the brain just got a kickstart or something.