Baby Sign Language - Just Another Scam? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-30-2001, 04:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Baby Sign Language-just another scam??

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Author Topic: Baby Sign Language-just another scam??
Member posted 07-30-2001 07:07 PM
At a play group today a friend brought in this book about baby signing. According to the book, that I have yet to read, it says it can be a valuble parenting tool, eases a lot of toddlerhood frustrations.
Now, before I run out and buy the book, has anyone ever tried it? Sounds like fun, on the other hand sounds too good to be true. I mean at this point I am usually rather good at figuring out what Charlotte needs or wants, so I wouldn't want that to change.

Just courious to see if anyone else practices it.

Member posted 07-30-2001 07:33 PM
Our ds used to get SO FRUSTRATED before we started using sign language (regular ASL) - he had a huge vocabulary, he just wasn't very clear verbally, signing was GREAT!! Plus he could communicate pretty well with other kids that knew some signs which was just amazing to see.
There's been quite a few posts on this, try a search for 'baby sign' and also check out the NE camping trip thread in Talk Among Ourselves

Member posted 07-30-2001 07:40 PM
My ds used a bunch of signs. We found them helpful, and it did allow him to share some words and concepts that he couldn't yet verbally communicate. On the other hand, "eases a lot of toddlerhood frustrations" sounds like an overstatement (at least in our case). It was neat when Julian could tell us "hey mom, I see a fish!" by opening and closing his mouth several times (and cute too!), but that was pretty much the function of his signs. Also, I wonder if they wouldn't be as helpful with an early talker, since one they figure out the word they usually prefer that to a sign.
I don't think you really need to buy a book - we got one as a gift, but owning it isn't necessary; you could just consult one at a library or bookstore for 20 minutes (or glance at your friend's!) to see how to get started. Have fun!

Moderator posted 07-30-2001 09:03 PM
No scam here. Baby signing is amazing. Our dd communicated her wishes long before she could talk. If I remember correctly, she had about 20 signing words around the age of one. We also taught our dog to respond to some sign commands that our dd still uses today.
We will be teaching our soon to be number two sign after s/he is born.

As far as a book. Well, if you thought baby signing might be a scam, then you will probably benefit from the suggestions in a book.

One story, and I've shared this before on these boards, is that our dd woke up screaming once. She did not calm down until after she signed what was on her mind. It must have been a bad dream becasue she signed "mommy broken." Then she felt better.

Member posted 07-30-2001 09:06 PM
We've been using signs for almost 2 months. Our ds is 11 months and just starting to really use them himself. I definitely think it helps lower his frustration. Even though I can often guess what he wants, signing makes it faster and easier. Plus, he really seems proud when we recognize what he's trying to "say". It also reminds me to consciously try to communicate, point out things in the environment, etc. And it's a great way to bond!

Member posted 07-30-2001 11:41 PM
Yeah, beccaboo, it seems pretty normal for kids to give up most signs when they start talking.
Our ds was not intelligible to us when he first was talking but said tons of words, and was increasingly unhappy that we couldn't understand him. Once he started signing he was so happy with it, and we also could understand his spoken words better. He still signs to our cats! and occasionally when he's tired or has to be 'quiet'. I always teach hand commands to dogs so my parent's 80# dog actually responds to ds motioning 'sit' from across the room!

I've said this elsewhere too but ds made up a sign for 'I love you' loooong before he ever could speak it, it's SO amazing to see your babe look at you while nursing and say I love you!

Member posted 07-30-2001 11:46 PM
Signing is the best thing we have done by far. Our 17 month old daughter has so many signs, and she learns them really easily at this point. Here is a list of what she can sign: milk (of course!), water, fire, hot, cold, sleepy, diaper change, rain, wind, more, all done, all gone, eat drink, baby, book, cry, slide, airplane, cat, open, close, and cookie. She is really learning to talk right now too and she is starting to say some words that she can while she is signing them, like book and hot.
It is really great and it has helped tremendously with eating and drinking because she just signs to us when she wants something, and when she wants more of it, and when she is all finished.

I hope you try it. We just love it. Just a few days ago she learned the sign for cry when she saw a baby crying, so now when anyone is sad (including herself) she does the cry sign and looks very concerned. It is too cute!


Member posted 07-31-2001 01:38 AM
I have a friend who used signs with her son. He talked late and everyone blamed it on the signing but she felt that she could communicate with him much sooner than other children - even those who talked early. Now he talks very clearly, as clear or clearer than his same age peers.
My 10 month old is very visually communicative. For example, the other night she wanted a snack before she would settle down to sleep BUT I couldn't figure out what she wanted to eat as she kept turning down my suggestions. She kept saying "Hmm Bot-n-Bah." Finally I said "What does Hmm Bot n Bah mean?" She mimed picking up a cheerio & putting it in her mouth. When I gave her the cheerios she flipped, ate a bunch & happily nursed to sleep.

I got out my ASL book the next evening and showed her some signs. The next morning, we were having a discussion about Daddy & she did the sign for Daddy (on me instead of herself) but I didn't catch on. My two-year old did though, and I didn't even think the two-year old was paying attention to the signing!

So that was a few days ago & the baby hasn't picked up any other signs but she's pointing at everything & I think I can help her narrow down what she wants with the right vocabulary in sign. She already says about 10 words so I don't think it will interfere with verbal language.

If your kid seems spatially oriented then it may be great.

Member posted 07-31-2001 05:24 AM
Hi Charlottesmom.
I know alot of parents/babies for whom signing is an excellent way of communication. I was not disciplined enough to use it, but my daughter makes up her own signs unprompted, leading me to believe that it would be an effective way of communication. My daughter started talking pretty early, so we haven't needed the signs quite as much (she can ask for "boo" or "mama" or "book", or just point to the things she wants), but who knows how much else she could tell me if she could sign?

I'm all for it. But I don't know if you need to buy the book - you could borrow one or skim one at a bookstore, and since you only start with 2 or 3 signs it's not like there's alot to remember.

Good luck! The best age to start, I've heard, is around 6-8 months.

Moderator posted 07-31-2001 01:13 PM
Not a scam - it worked for us! I agree that you don't need to buy the book - the basic concept is easy and make up your own signs if you want.

Member posted 07-31-2001 01:20 PM
Babies understand much more than they are able to communicate, so sign language helps them get ideas across. Once they can get their hands under control, just watch them pick up any signs you care to use around them. And once they start talking, the signs go by the wayside. But yes, a wonderful tool for a family's arsenal.

unregistered posted 07-31-2001 01:48 PM
My daughter picked up sign language (just a few basic signs) from my best friends son. He has Downs Syndrome and was taught it at a young age. It was terrific to see the two of them communicating. I didn't know at the time that you could teach babies sign language or about the book etc. With my new little one, I plan to try teaching her a few basics before she's verbal.
At what age did any of you start teaching signs?

Member posted 07-31-2001 02:22 PM
my cousins signed before they could speak, which was excellent because their father is deaf and their mother is losing her hearing, i wish they all lived closer and could teach me! my uncle and my mom made up their own sign language to communicate when they were little. we're starting to sign with my 9 mo dd - but then, everyone signs all kinds of things anyway: wave bye bye!

Member posted 07-31-2001 02:55 PM
I love signing. We have just started it. It is awesome. He can sign for milk when he wants it. He is going to be a year. It is amazing and I highly recommend it.

Member posted 07-31-2001 07:00 PM
Thanks for the great input! Since I love to read, I think I might pick up that signing book.
At the very least I think, signing, will be another bonding outlet for us.

I also must say it is great to be able to ask mothers mothering questions, and get really useful information!

Member posted 07-31-2001 10:22 PM
my dd really took to it. Now she is talking so much more, so not as active signing, and I am the one who dropped the ball, I am sure she would have really become a pro-signer, but she was learning them faster than I could teach them. Why? Because I didn't have the book! I would just go over to my friend's house and look them up.
The trick is DON'T GIVE UP. They tell you to start at 6 mo which we did, but then we didn't see anything for a long time, then a few signs around 8mo, milk, more, eat, then nothing, then at 10mo, she just exploded! You just have to keep doing it like second nature.

And it does ease stress. We taught her the sign for 'medicine' and that is how she tells us she needs her teething tablets when teeth are coming in. 'Help' is a good one for them to know too. I should have made up a sign for 'be careful' or 'danger'. She made up signs too, nothing so wonderful as 'I love you', but for 'train' since I couldn't find the sign and 'fish'. We made up a sign for sling together, and she still uses it.

It really is a great thing, and you can tailor it to your own baby's interests!

GB's Mom
Member posted 08-01-2001 05:46 AM
I agree with all of the above. Our 16 ds knows over 35 signs. It's amazing. Parents are so shocked when we tell them that we NEVER have a problem knowing what ds wants. He's never frustrated and always knows that he can communicate his needs. I can't imagine it any other way. If I didn't know what he needed I would feel horrible. The book is helpful to motivate you and get you started. But after the first couple of signs, we just sort of made up our own, or ds actually has made up several.
The best signs for us are the ones we developed for "nurse," "all done," and "help." The "help" sign has completely eliminated ds whining when he can't do something. He just does the help sign and we know he needs assistance reaching something, opening something, etc. Also, he uses "all done" when he's finished eating, which eliminates him throwing food, and he uses it when he's tired and ready for a nap or bedtime.

You will be in awe of what your child is capable of communicating once you get started.

Good luck and enjoy!

Member posted 08-01-2001 09:44 AM
Consider looking for The Joy of Signing which provides a foundation of vocabulary for ASL--not 'made-up' signs. Of course, made-up signs are fine, too, but now that my kids are older, they can 'really' sign. Just a thought.

Member posted 08-01-2001 11:03 AM
I think one of the sweetest things ever is seeing little ones sign 'hurt' with their sad little faces....

Member posted 08-01-2001 01:14 PM
After meeting JPmom and Rastamom, I've decided to try it with Caleb. I have the book and everything, and am STARTING to try (he's only 4 months, I figure start now so that *I* can get used to talking with my hands).
Seeing these babes communicate this gently motions with these little hands... I can't even describe it!

I think it's a great idea!

Let us know how it goes/if it goes!


Member posted 08-02-2001 06:53 AM
I haven't read the book but we do use a few signs with our 20 month old. We started several months ago with "please", "thank you" and "sleep". It really helps. Now instead of screeching when she wants something she signs and says "pees" and tells me when she is tired instead of just falling apart. We introduced "thank you" to introduce her to the concept that there is something you do after you get what you have been wanting. She has lots of words but having signs for these key things really helps. "Hurt" is a great idea - I will look it up in my ASL dictionary now!

Member posted 08-02-2001 09:16 PM
I'm going to try this with my 17 month old! I posted the other day in regarding his screeching whenever he's frustrated. Maybe this would help. I'm kind of unclear as to how to teach him. You'd think a homeschooling mom could figure this out but DS has a totally different style then DD's. She's more like me and I "get" how she learns things. The fact that DS is usually a mystery to me is probably a contributing factor to me not understanding him! Any tips? I'm going to look for "The Joy of Signing" in the library.

Member posted 08-02-2001 10:55 PM
signing is awesome
ds 18 months ...still signs even though he is learning new words ( verbal and sign ) like crazy, he only slowed down in the signing when we forgot to offer it .. like " use your signs honey.. what do you need?" for example. oh and he usually says the word as he's sighning it so we still get to hear his cute little voice!
bought the book hardly used it. there are online stes that helped me much more to do the signs ( I have dsl so the real video looks good and its so much easier to just click on a word and have the sign shown to you instead of trying to decifer the drawing in a book.)
anytoo happy signing!

Member posted 08-06-2001 09:29 PM
Something to remember when teaching signs is that they understand the words long before they can say them. So if you show the sign as you say the word they will pick it up in no time.
I also started with dd when she was about 4 mo old so I could get used to it. She was signing "more" at 8-9 mo, but we didn't recognize her version until 10-11 mo. Now, at just over a year, she signs "more", "milk", "all done" & "airplane" (we live by the airport) unprompted and "change", "sleep" & "eat" when asked if that's what she wants. She usually uses "more" when she wants to eat, anyway.
I have started been using "please" & "thank you", but she hasn't picked up on them yet. I think I'll start with "help" pretty soon. That would be useful.
I take care of a baby 6 weeks younger than dd & it is very frustrating not ever knowing what she wants. I am trying to do some signing with her, but I only have her part time.
I bought the book & video package "Sign with Your Baby" which uses ASL. I think it will come in handy later in life for all of us.
Good luck!

Member posted 08-08-2001 08:16 PM
We are just getting started with signing ourselves, but DS is already getting a couple. Also wanted to add a link for those who want to try some sign before investing in the books.

Member posted 08-08-2001 11:24 PM
Thanks for the link, Fizzymom. That will be so much easier than searching on the video for a demo and it probably has more words than we'll ever need.

Member posted 08-08-2001 11:52 PM
Great link, Fizzymum! Thanks! DH and I have just been practising. I'm going to try it out tomorrow with DS. I really like the fact that we can see someone doing the sign. I find it hard to see a drawing in a book and translating that into movement. I just hope I haven't waited too long. DS is about 17 months old.

unregistered posted 08-10-2001 04:12 PM

Member posted 08-14-2001 09:35 PM
My almost 2 1/2 year old son has a sever speech delay. He understands everything but can't seem to make the words. He has come up with some of his own signs and the speech therapist recommended sign language to ease frustration. I'm going to try it asap. I'll let you know how it goes. Also they said it will not delay speech any further.

Moderator posted 08-15-2001 10:32 AM
This has been the best tool for us. Aria has really gotten it and will sign for what she wants now. She uses about 5 signs on a daily basis and we are working on more.
It makes life so much easier and interesting when you know what they want.

Her favorite signs are to ask for music and tell me when she is done.

She has even started imitating the words for "all done" when she uses the sign.

I cant overstate how wonderful signing has been for us and we have just gotten started!!!!

Member posted 08-22-2001 11:12 PM
He's doing it! He can sign "More". He's stopped screaming at us when he wants something because he likes the squeal of delight he gets when he signs!!! I just had to tell someone because everyone here thinks we're nut-bars for teaching him sign language. Well, I don' care what they think. My little screamer isn't pissed off at us anymore. If one little sign (that's all he does right now) can make meal times peaceful again then, in my book, it works!
Thanks everyone for the encouraging posts.

Junior Member posted 08-23-2001 10:33 AM
Just wanted to let you all know another good website is: We have not had our baby yet, but this is a topic of interest to me. Go to the BabySign section of the site. They even have some video streams showing how to make the signs!

unregistered posted 08-23-2001 05:38 PM
sitka, that's awesome! My dd's favorite sign was "more"
More food, more hugs, more more, more!
leonoras, thanks for the link!

Member posted 08-23-2001 09:39 PM
Yeah, we're pretty happy. One little sign makes such a difference! I found out yesterday that it doesn't work when you're driving though. Poor DS was signing "More" madly trying to tell me he wanted more crackers that I had in the front seat. I couldn't hear DD telling me that he was saying "More" and so eventually he resorted to screaming at me. Mama's a little slow.
Now we're working on "all done" or "finished" instead of playing frisbee with the bowl! Wish me luck!

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