Baby Sign Language: Mastering Eat and Milk!

Baby sign language is a way to teach infants how to communicate using hand gestures. Hand gestures are easier for a baby than controlling their vocal chords. Using sign language enables your baby to start communicating about six months earlier than if you were just relying on speech. Being able to sign accelerates your baby’s progress to words as well. Studies show that signing babies develop larger speaking vocabularies than their non-signing counterparts.

As well as giving parents a way to start communicating with their baby earlier, baby sign language makes the baby’s life easier too. Being able to tell you what is on her mind gives your baby a little more control over her life, reducing frustration and the resulting fussiness. Many signing babies seem to skip the terrible twos stage and sail smoothly into toddler hood!               Read more here.

My daughter signed “milk” today. I knew she was very close to mastering it as she knew exactly what we meant when we signed it and would get very excited, and look everywhere for it but I didn’t expect to be such proud mum! She is now able to sign “eat” and “milk” and does a great job!

At first, signing wasn’t something I was really interested in. It wasn’t familiar to me, I didn’t know anyone in my entourage who had done it in the past, and didn’t really see a need for it. My husband was really interested in it however, so I decided to my research and decide if this is something I would like to do for our child. I also had the opportunity to meet with another mum later in time who had had great results with her own daughter and the more I read about it, the more sense it made.

We have been very consistent but I have to confess that I didn’t really think she would ever sign back. Well, not that I don’t trust her abilities but let’s say that I didn’t have high expectations. At the present time, we are using “eat”, “milk”, “hurt” and “bird” (I know, random but she loves birds) as well as “more” and “all done”. Now that she masters eat and milk, I want to focus more on “more” and “all done” as this is something that would be really useful (although she shakes her head when she is done so I take it as a “no more”).

I should add that my research mainly consisted (and I realize the choice of word was a tad strong) in reading about the benefits and checking out some signs. I may not be doing it the right way but it is working and everyone’s happy.

I think it might help with her bilingualism as well as my husband and I both use ASL (American Sign Language). She knows that MILK and LAIT means the same.

Have you ever been interested in signing? Would you recommend it? Please share your experience! Thank you!

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Comments

  1. Yay for signing milk! It’s so exciting when they sign back, isn’t it?! We did signed english (SE) with our older son for his first 3 years and have been using it again with his little brother who is now one (we started when he was just a few weeks old). I love signing! What websites have you used? Have you been to signingsavvy.com? That one is great because you don’t have to “figure it out”, like in an illustration, you just watch the mini video clips and learn!

    • Never heard of signingsavvy but will definitely give it a try….Until the age of three? Wow! How did it work in the end? I think your child stops using the sign when he masters the verbal word? Is that correct?

      • Not all children stop using the sign once they know the word – my older son didn’t! He would sign AND say the word, which was super cute to watch! Our little one will sign words he knows (that he can’t say yet), and speak alone when it’s a word he can say. He never signs and speaks together. So, I guess it depends on the child. 🙂 We have enjoyed signing over the years a lot! Like, at storytime when one of them has to use the bathroom, they sign potty and I know from across the room that they have to go! Comes in very handy!! I just posted on our experience with signing with hearing kids, if you are interested: http://atlantamomofthree.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/teaching-sign-language-to-my-hearing-child/

  2. Hi there, I have a friend who runs a baby sign group – she first used it with her second child and now teaches it. I have heard mixed reviews in that it can slow their speech development, but from my experience of talking to others, it seems that they soon catch up with their peers and the benefits of being able to understand their wants and needs at an early age outweighs this. Would be interested to hear your thoughts/experiences on this.

    • To be honest with you, I think only time will tell. Right now, she is developing really well and amazes me every single day. I don’t know if it will delay her speech but she babbles a lot and tries to repeat sounds I make. We are also a bilingual family and despite what I have heard “bilingual children talk later” I don’t think it is true and feel that the benefits of bilingualism are there.
      Thank you for dropping by!

      ps: I love the name Charlotte! It is my daughter’s middle name 😉

  3. Awesome!!! Eli is 2 1/2 and still goes to signing when he is feeling upset or super sleepy. His favorite one is “more”. He can sign it with his mouth still stuffed from the last helping of food. 🙂

  4. So cool! I haven’t been as consistent as I should be…our “twiblings” seem to understand the signs but don’t sign back, with the exception of all done/arm flailing that they do all the time (maybe I’m doing the wrong sign?).

    • Hi and thank you for dropping by!
      I think consistency is key but we parents do what we can. I wasn’t very consistent as well either which is why she is probably picking up only now when she could have been signing back much earlier but we decided (now that she is clearly a toddler) that we should try harder so we could communicate better with her and it seems to work great!
      Which words have you been signing? I just checked your blog and your children are beautiful! It is quite the journey you’ve had there! x

  5. I didn’t really see a need for signing either at first, but then a friend of mine was using it with her children. One day her 8 months old daughter came to her and signed ‘tired’. It was only very early in the morning but her daughter kept doing it. She put her to bed and there she slept for two hours! I was amazed. My kids are too old now but I can definitely see the benefits.

    • That is so sweet! I want to learn and teach her this one as well. Although I can usually tell when she is tired but you never know!

      It is really good to be able to communicate with your non-verbal-yet child. She can’t speak much yet but it doesn’t mean she has nothing to say…it is working now for us but we also make sure to talk a lot with her.

  6. I didn’t intentionally teach them any sign language but all of my children love Mister Tumble. He’s a clown that signs MaKaTon. BB hasn’t signed yet but the older two have. It’s really cute to watch – my eldest (6) still signs sometimes. Once she decided at a family gathering she would show everyone how to sign “rabbit poo”.

  7. You know how I love sign language! Congrats, you’re a great mum and I’m so proud of our little Sissi. It shows how helpful is that language, even more for babies who are able to communicate earlier 😉

  8. I’m very impressed by the anglo-saxon approach of the education with differents methods/science ( montessori, signs, etc. that you use). More and more, worlwide, children are considered like little personne, but develop their own qualities/skills since they’re babies it’s exemplary.

    Good job parents, welldone Sissi!!

  9. i’ve never thought of sign language but now you talk about it, we (kind of) introduced it without thinking about it. Our baby (13 months) says “thank you” waving with her hand. (generally when we give her something). I love it. We should try some other things like you did!

  10. We speak three languages at home and signing is something I would be interested to try when time comes!

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  1. […] idea was sort of rekindled when today I read this blog ‘Baby Sign Language: Mastering Eat and Milk!’. Well although I never thought of it, it totally makes sense to me that babies could sign while […]

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