My 8 month old spoke to me
Alright let’s make one thing clear...babies do things at their own pace and in their own time but my baby just said his first word. Only there was no sounds. Just a hand action. You see for the last 2 months we have been teaching Hunter sign language.
Hunter signed 'milk' to me. The opening and closing of his palm, which is the version of ‘milk’ we chose to use. The actual sign resembled that of milking a cow...we modified it though as I didn't want milking a cow to be associated with breast feeding. I am not a cow, although when attached to a breast pump on my work days it may feel like that. That's one of the great things about baby sign language, as long as you and your baby agree on the meaning of a sign it doesn't have to be the exact version. Hunter can now tell me when he wants to be fed instead of me guessing when he is hungry. So far he has signed for 'milk' 4 times now and has had really good feeds, indicating he was genuinely hungry. The only time his signing failed him was when he asked his Poppa for milk...it doesn't really work that way when you exclusively breast feed unfortunately. This is the first of many signs I hope that he learns how to use.
We had mixed responses when we told people were teaching him sign. Many asking us if he had hearing difficulties and many simply staring as if we were crazy. Neither were true, we were simply given a voucher for a company and thought we would use it. To be honest we were a little skeptical at first. Unsure of how you could teach a baby sign language successfully. We learnt quickly though teaching sign to Hunter is no different to teaching him how to wave. All babies learn how to wave eventually, so it’s logical that all babies could learn more actions, more signs to go along with words. It’s simply using an action with a word repeatedly until he learns its meaning and copies. After the first 5 minutes into the lesson both my Husband and I were hooked. The 6 baby sign language classes are based on AUSLAN, Australian Sign Language and are run by Australian Baby Hands in the comfort of our own home. Learning the signs was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the lessons and thought that even if Hunter doesn't learn any signs we've had fun doing a family activity. But he is learning them and I am way more excited than I thought I would be!
Hunter definitely understands the sign for bath, up and food, and I’m sure he’ll be able to sign them back soon too. I know well over 100 signs and use them every day with him, some, such as 'milk' get used a lot more which is why that would be his first sign.
The benefits of teaching your baby sign language are actually quite amazing.
- It helps to reduce frustration between parent and baby as they can communicate their needs with you.
- Helps to accelerate the speech process
- Improves self confidence and self esteem
- Stimulates brain development resulting in a high IQ
- Less tantrums as baby/toddler can communicate clearly
Obviously I can’t attest to any of these benenfits yet due to his age but hopefully I will see a few of them in the months and years to come! What I can say is that it has been so much fun to teach him sign, and seeing him communicate when he wants to be feed now is extremely rewarding. I really recommend taking baby sign language classes to any new parent.