There are many practical applications for baby sign language and for us the most important continues to be the ability to communicate with your baby and meet their needs as early as six months old. Other equally important benefits of baby sign language include increased IQ, improved bonding and higher levels of interaction.
Because we have been doing this for a long time we figured we had covered it all, until we received this letter. For the privacy of mother and child I am not including pictures or last names. We are very thankful to Mary for reaching out to us and sharing how baby sign language made a positive impact during a difficult period in their lives.
I have been a fan of your page even before my little Emma was born. During a difficult pregnancy I spent time learning the basic baby sign language signs and becoming familiar with baby sign language teaching methods.
As soon as Emma was born my husband and I began using the sign for milk and more, we also signed mom, dad & dog. Each Monday when other baby sign language parents posted their progress reports on Facebook I got really excited and could not wait until Emma did her first sign. To my surprise Emma’s first sign was not milk, more, mom or dad. Emma’s first sign was “dog.” We have a beautiful black lab named Joy and she has been a second mother to Emma. They nap together on the floor and Joy sleeps by Emma’s crib. Emma started signing at six months old and kept learning new signs very quickly. By her 100th sign I lost count. Fast forward two years my Emma was a signing super star and she was also super verbal. A chatterbox!
Last month my Emma became suddenly very sick and we had to rush her to the ER. My little princess had a fever and was barely breathing. The doctor decided to perform a tracheostomy to facilitate her breathing. My husband and I were devastated. Thanks to lots of prayers and excellent doctors she improved little by little. The doctors decided it was in good judgment to leave the tracheostomy available for a little while just in case of complication. This meant our little girl could not talk and express her needs and wants. For a parent this is a very scary moment. At age two it was not an option to give Emma pen and paper and she was too weak to even attempt to vocalize without sound.
On a whim my husband had the idea to bring the baby sign language cards from home and use them to help Emma point to items. To our surprise she did not use the cards. Instead, Emma began signing her little heart out expressing things like hungry, thirsty, cold and yucky!! In fact our little girl was so precious and so gracious she would sign thank you each time the nurses came in with a toy or her food.
My little girl is on the mend but I did not want to miss the opportunity to share my story with other parents. It is my wish they never find themselves in a similar situation but if they do they will be forever thankful for having introduced baby to the basics of sign language. Before leaving the hospital my husband and I decided to give the nurses a Baby Sign Language Premium Kit with Signing Time DVD collection knowing that it could make a tremendous difference to parents that find themselves in a similar crisis.
We are very thankful to Mary and Emma for sending us this letter and giving us permission to share it with parents, educators and caregivers in the baby sign language community. As you work with your babies and toddlers and select words to increase their baby sign language vocabulary be mindful of incorporating signs that can help baby get what they need or want when speaking is not an option. Here are a few words we would like to suggest: