Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Signing With Your Baby - A Guest Post

We are so pleased to introduce our friend Anna of Anna's Place to you.  Anna is mom to a fantastic toddler (that's her cutie in the video below) and has been teaching him to sign as part of his language development.  She is our first guest poster and we couldn't be more happy to have her share on Clever Mamas!

Signing “Please” and “Thank you“

At 15 months while a very chatty child, my son actually only has about 5-6 words that he says, on the other hand he also has about 5-6 words that he signs. When my son was about a year he started pulling at my shirt when he wanted to nurse, and I have always thought that type of communication is unacceptable, so I decided to teach him to sign so he would be able tell me what he needs.

We started with a few basics such as “hungry”, “all done”, “more”, “nurse” (“milk”), and have added to them as needed.  My favourites are probably “please” and “thank you”, which he uses consistently; I am so happy that we were able to start with good manner from such a young age. Recently I decided we are going learn the sign for ‘Sorry”, this for when I accidentally bump him into something or step on him, but also for when he intentionally smacks me or disobeys.

While I am at work my son stays with his grandparents who are also pleased with the results of signing; I encouraged them to sign with him by sending along cue posters and a link to an online video signing dictionary (

Both my husband and father-in-law were concerned that if my son started signing, he would be delayed in actually learning to speak, however based on research it is reported that children who sign actually have advanced literacy skills (this fact from my mother, an OT at the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre).

Other advantages to signing with your child:

·         Less frustration from both parent and child in communicating with each other

·         Teaches good manners early

·         Reportedly can increase IQ and creativity, and improve spatial reasoning

Teaching him was relatively easy, I worked on a few signs at a time, I would use his hands to mimic what I wanted him to say and we always speak the word when we sign it. I think we taught him to sign “please” and “more” while eating ice cream, so it went very quickly. I am not fussy about him getting it exactly right, he rubs both hands on his belly for “please” instead of one hand on his chest, and he smacks his mouth with his hand for thank you instead of bringing his hand down from his chin. Just as I don’t expect his spoken works to be perfect, I don’t expect his signs to be perfect.  I have to say I was probably more pleased with his first signing than I was when he first started talking, this could be because his first spoken word was “no” and his first signed word was “please”.


  1. I completely agree with this post. I taught my son to sign starting at about 5-6 months and he caught on very quickly. He was slow to start talking so thank goodness we had many signs to communicate. And once he did start talking his language development has improved quickly. I would recommend baby sign language to new parents!

  2. This is good to know! I'd been planning to teach my eight-month-old sign language, but so far she's been picking up spoken language (cat, book, dog) and no sign language (milk, more). This inspires me to keep going, though.

  3. Baby signing is FANTASTIC, and in our case, has been a lifesaver. I started signing with my daughter when she was 4 months old. She began to sign around 10 months. Just before her 2nd birthday, she was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Without signing, she would be at a loss most of the time. Her verbal skills are improving greatly with speech therapy. And, she knows more than 300 ASL signs. It's been fun for us all to learn sign, too. So many benefits!




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