My littlest one is just 14 months old. He walks ~ no, runs ~ and climbs and loves to snuggle. He also tells me things that he is thinking, that he wants, and how he is feeling. It is not guesswork on my part, he literally is telling me all sorts of things...and who knew a non-verbal toddler had so much to say.
Well, he isn't exactly non-verbal. He has a terrific grunt that he uses in various pitches for nearly everything. He says "Boooooop" for nursing, "Mama", and "Pap". When he was ten months old, he could say the dog's name...every five minutes! Then he began walking and words took a backseat to simply experiencing wonder.
Huckley is my third baby and like his brother and sister before him, he uses baby signs. Each of them began at different times...Forrest was using signs a lot at thirteen months, while Sunshine was very chatty with them at ten months old.
Huckley is more casual about it, and that's just fine. We are pretty laid back about the whole thing...if we remember to make the gesture when we say the word, then he learns that he can use that gesture too. Both Forrest and Sunshine are the real teachers here, and they are the ones helping Huckley learn to communicate.
I never really sought out to do this baby signing. It kind of just evolved from the universal baby gestures of waving goodbye and pointing. When I browsed through the book "Baby Signs ~ How to Talk with your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk", I saw how helpful signing could be for both the child and the parent. All mamas know how upset their babies can get, usually due to frustrations. With signing, those frustrations are hugely reduced, if not eliminated.
Huckley has a fairly good signing vocabulary : he names objects (dog, book, poopy diaper), he expresses needs (thirsty, hungry), he describes things (more, a little bit, all gone, listen, where is it?), and several more. Sometimes, he'll wake up from a nap and immediately and repeatedly make the sign for dog (panting with his tongue sticking out) and won't be settled until we go find the dogs. Did he dream about his dogs? Does he miss his dogs? I'm not sure about the details, but it was easy to go find the dogs and reassure him.
I especially like it when Huckley uses the signs like "Where is it?". He is asking me a question and together we can find what he is looking for. Sometimes, he is playing a game with me and hides the ball behind his back and signs "Where is it?" Then he erupts into hilarious laughter.
When I first saw this book I was so sceptical, thinking it was like teaching a dog a trick. But truly, it amazes me how much my baby can tell me and only from simply repeating gestures when using certain words. For each of my three children, it was really quite simple. Soon enough, Huckley may begin to put two or three signs together...or even substitute a word for a sign.
I'm also not worried tha"t my baby will fail to learn language because he is so effectively using signs. My older two children are so articulate, despite Sunshine not wanting to speak until Huckley was born. (And then within six weeks of uttering her first words, she was speaking in sentences). Perhaps the best part about baby signs is that Huckley is more actively expressing himself, letting us glimpse the person within. And that little soul who is emerging and colouring our lives with his vibrancy is one amazing person indeed!
I'd love to hear if anyone else has used baby signs? What are some of the more unique signs your baby used?