Tuesday, August 26, 2008
'Talking' to your newborn
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I read Baby Signs. My sister had mentioned baby signs to me before and when I saw the book, I bought it. Again, money well spent. I started signing to her when she showed longer periods of awareness, somewhere in the second month.
I used the signs from the book: turning my arms for 'fan', sticking my thumb at the side of my mouth for 'milk', blowing my lips for 'hot', shivering for 'cold'. The books uses mostly standard American Sign Language signs, although you may make up your own signs too, as long as they are simple and easy to understand.
I usually signed and said the words aloud to my baby. This went on for the next few months, and I gradually added more sign words as her world expanded. The first breakthrough was when she was about 5 months old and I had her in her high chair. The fan wasn't on and it was a hot day. She lifted her arm and started twirling it around, the sign for 'fan'. I was gleeful!
Then one time, in her car seat, the sun was streaming in. She blew her lips three times, the sign for 'hot'. So I moved her. I was ecstatic!
From then on, it snowballed. She would start using a sign every other day, then every day, and then a few signs a day. I brought her out to the garden and she saw the neighbour's cat. She put two fingers to the side of her mouth and dragged it across her face, the sign for 'cat'.
I really believe signing to her since young helped with her language skills, for she could communicate with me even when she couldn't talk, and that boosted her confidence. It also reduced the frustration of not knowing what she wanted. And my baby never went to the baby talk stage. She went straight to proper words. Now she speaks in proper sentences and uses adult words.