One of the most humbling things about working with all our fans and friends in the journey of baby sign language is the opportunity to witness how babies develop communication skills.
We believe little ones should be exposed to a variety of intellectually and emotionally estimating environments that foster a better understanding of the world that surrounds them. Last week we shared with you a sweet and wonderful adventure at the Perot Museum of Science. It was lovely to see Max navigate in a new environment and use his signs to communicate needs and learn new signs.
This week we are sharing with you A Day at the Zoo. I had the opportunity to join Max and his family for this little field trip and was super impressed at his comfort with the world that surrounds him and his ability to reach out in a social context. Max frequently reached out to other babies and attempted to communicate using both words and signs
The best stories are those that inspire us. This baby sign language story does just that. Max has been progressing quickly and is starting to become a highly verbal child. He is a joy to be around and baby sign language truly reduces stress when it comes to his ability to express his needs and wants.
Spending the day with Max and his mom Danielle is magical and a testimony on how a working mother can have such a great influence in the educational development of a baby. Danielle has done a great job. Every single day Max shows a new skill, signs a new word and demonstrates a better understanding of his surroundings.
Max knows many signs for vegetables and fruits and he is really good about signing to communicate basic needs such as thirst, sleep or more.
As you watch this video where Danielle and Max visit the Perot Science museum I want you to notice that Max is able to identify the fossil model of a Mastodon as an “elephant”, He also makes the connection between a wolf and a dog.
A few awesome facts about Max:
- Max is attending a bilingual daycare. sign language serves as a transitional tool between English & Spanish.
- Max is highly advanced verbally and emotionally for his age. It is a delight to see him try to engage little ones and adults at every single outing.
- Max is not prone to meltdowns at all. He is a super happy baby and always ready to convey his needs. Mom is awesome too and quite receptive to his creativity. Max has invented his own signs as he learns to navigate the world.
- Max loves fruits and vegetables.
- Max also learns baby sign language at church. His newest sign is Jesus.
- Max receives lots of encouragement and baby sign language instruction from his older sister Olivia.
We hope you enjoyed this video. If you have ideas and suggestions of museums and parks in your own town that other parents might enjoy as a setting to expose babies to new things feel free to leave a comment.
Traveling with a baby presents a variety of challenges for the parents, the baby and those sharing the plane with you. Because everyone must eventually face their first time of traveling with baby we wanted to give you some quick tips to make it work.
The first step toward making traveling with baby comfortable and peaceful is to put yourself on your baby’s shoes and try to anticipate the needs, stressors and challenges they are likely to face pre-flight during the flight and upon arrival.
Pick Travel-Friendly Clothes
Dress yourself and baby with practical and comfortable clothes that allow ease of movement. Consider layering. Before the trip work on teaching baby the signs for hot and cold. Knowing how to convey discomfort as far as temperature is concerned will help a whole lot when it comes to keeping a calm and happy baby during the plane ride.
Bring Quiet Interactive Toys
Airplanes are not the best place to bring toys with lights or sounds. Unless your toddler is headset-ready bring smaller, quiet interactive toys such as signing books, or books with a variety of tactile input via texture. Also consider a small teddy with heartbeat or womb sounds.
Sucking Motion to Manage Ear Pressure
During take-off and landing consider giving baby a pacifier or allowing him to latch and nurse to reduce the discomfort caused by atmospheric pressure.
Pack Smart Snacks
Keep snacks handy for baby and teach him to sign their favorites such as cereal or bread. Stay away from messy snacks that might result in awkward moments with your row neighbors.
Be the Buffer
If you are in a three seat row and you have reserved a seat for your baby or toddler position yourself as a human buffer by taking the center seat.
Play with Flashcards
If your toddler has a rich signing vocabulary consider bringing flashcards with you or printing a mini set. Show your toddler a card and ask them to sign for you. This will keep their hands and their minds busy.
Burn Some Energy Before Boarding
Consider taking your toddler for a walk before boarding the plane or plan the flight schedule around their nap time Teach baby the sign for sleep so that he can convey his need for rest.
Be a Good Neighbor
Earplugs cost pennies. Bring several pairs and have them handy as a peace offering for your fellow travelers. It is a small gesture that can go a long way
Mama Sets the Tone
Babies can sense stress. Be a calm and peaceful traveler and handle situations as they come. Babies read emotions and quickly adopt the same attitude you are portraying.
In an effort to give our little ones the best of the best sometimes we take ourselves a bit too seriously. Because learning should be both engaging & fun we wanted to share with you four practical ideas to add a little extra to your learning process. By adding a little fun we hope you will remember your baby sign language journey fondly and you will enthusiastically share it with others. Incorporate this tips to our daily learning routine and see magic happen.
Signs & Songs
Make Baby Signing Time part of your visual and musical repertoire. Music accelerates learning and makes for happy babies. Another option is to incorporate signs to your favorite baby songs and customize the whole experience for your little one.
Make it a point to celebrate and respond each time your little one shows learning progress. Encourage them with sweet words and an extra dose of affection. Invent a happy dance to mark achievements.
Take a Little Topical Field Trip
Head to the store and visit the produce section. Use the produce to introduce baby to the way each vegetable looks prior to cutting or preparation. Take a few precut snacks to reward baby and create an additional layer of association between the word, the prepared fruit or veggie and raw produce.
Make Your Toddler a Star
Introduce your little one to the magic of videos. Record them while they are showing you their best baby sign and then invite them to watch the video with you. Ask about the baby in the video to further their self awareness.
Just a quick stop to share with you this wonderful food stages infographic. We love to see how babies begin to sign food items based on their preferences.
credit: she knows Australia
We found this nice infographic showing baby milestones by age. As far as baby sign language we find that most babies will know their first sign between five months and 11 months and will explode in signing by month 17 and which time they are showing really fast progress with their verbal skills.
We love to hear how your baby is progressing and achieving communication, motor skills, emotional expression and growth milestones.
Having babies at the same time as your friends can set the stage for wonderful social interaction and the ability to share joys and sorrows as families grow. Together with your friends you will work toward achieving early childhood milestones such as walking, sitting and baby sign language.
Many of our friends have sent us stories highlighting how most of the learning for their babies takes place in a social context such as daycare of play group. These are beautiful stories that we cherish but life is not always perfect. We frequently get notes from moms and dads wanting to know how to help friends facing delays in learning or simply measuring their little one against the milestones of their peers.
Just last week I received a phone call from a mom asking for guidance and resources for her best friend. Both have 17 month old baby girls, both started baby sign language at birth and continue to teach it contextually and by using signing time song videos. Baby Miranda started signing at six months and now signs over 45 signs. Baby Laura started signing at 8 months, she recognizes about 8 signs and signs 4 consistently. Her signs are milk, more, dog & mom. Both baby girls attend the same daycare and socialize in the same playgroup Miranda has started talking and is able to combine up to three words. Laura is not talking yet. When Miranda’s mom called me she wanted some help to be able to assist Laura’s mom and see if Laura could catch up. She is mainly concerned about feelings getting hurt and Laura’s mom feeling like she is dropping the ball.
Chances are many of you are in a similar situation and we wanted to give you some practical tips:
Celebrate Every Achievement With Equal Enthusiasm
Look for milestones and be a participant of the celebration. If the babies around you are showing progress in other areas such as coordination or good eating habits acknowledge it and make a big deal of it.
Watch the way you convey your message. It is not the same to say Miranda knows 45 signs than to say Miranda knows 40 signs more than Laura.
Maximize Your Strengths
If your friend is gifted at sports and you are a better teacher of communication skills work together as a team gifting each baby with love and patient instruction.
Engage in Learning-Oriented Play
Set the stage for fun games where learning takes place and involve both babies. Many little ones learn best from their peers using principles of teaching commonly applied at Montessori schools. You can also let them watch Signing Time videos together to help them connect song, verbal skills and rythm to each sign.
Print or Purchase Matching Materials for Both Babies
If your friend’s budget or schedule is limited consider sharing your time and resources by creating flashcard decks to match the interests of their baby or purchasing a baby sign language kit to facilitate at-home lessons
It is tempting to feel superior because of the achievements of your little ones. Let love be the dominant factor and invest in your friend’s baby as if it was your own.
If you are new to baby sign language and you are visiting us to find practical solutions and enhanced methods to accelerate learning we want to share with you a few tips. These tips worked for us and have worked for hundreds of parents and educators around the world. Give them a try, we are confident your baby will be signing in no time.
Pick Signs That Match Your Child’s Interest & Curiosity
This is one of the most useful tips we can give. Relevance matters when it comes to signing. Even if you have the whole deck of baby sign language flashcards select and prioritize the ones that matter most to your little one. You could include favorite foods such as milk and cookie or objects of interest such as fan or light.
Refrain from Random Signing:Keep it Contextual
Signing out of context when you are simply saying the word is not helpful. Make sure the child receives visual, auditory and tactile feedback when learning the sign. For example, you could have the baby hold a fruit while you sign it. Or you could use visual queues such as flashcards of model toys. Use food signs during meals and bath signs while giving baby his bath.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Little One
Pick a few signs and use them frequently until baby masters each sign. Having many signs for complex concepts that baby does not yet understand only leads to slower learning and frustration. As baby masters new words you can add new ones while still practicing the ones he already knows.
Use The Tools Available to You
Videos and songs as well as read-alongs create a great opportunity for repetition-based learning. Having and playing the basic signing time videos and singing songs with relevant signs while on the road sets the stage for very successful learning. Give it a try!
Yesterday we received this beautiful email from a mom in NYC. Many of you will identify with her struggles and find her words highly encouraging
When my daughter Shala was born we had saved enough money for me to stay at home for her first seven months. I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful bonding experience we had. I was determined to spend every minute giving her love and equipping her with every possible advantage I could. I breastfed, we listened to classical music together and we spent many hours outdoors.
We started signing with her from day one. We knew that she was unlikely to start signing until later but we found that it was a wonderful way for us to engage with her. Shala surprised us with her first sign on her fifth month! My little bug would sign milk basically every time she was hungry! Words cannot describe our joy. We wanted everyone to see how our little tiny girl could communicate her needs and in response to her communication we were ready to give her what she needed.
My husband, my MIL and I reinforced signing in daily activities and games but Shala spent the majority of her time with me as the main caregiver. Two weeks ago I went back to work. We are so fortunate to have my MIL who is willing to help us with Shala’s care. Knowing that my little one was going to be with nana eased my anxiety a ton.
On my first day at the office my MIL had some challenges to overcome. Shala was missing mommy and expressed her anxiety by crying. While my little girl was crying she signed milk. My MIL promptly fed her a bottle. That was a turning moment. Somehow my little girl realized that nana was as capable as mom when it came to meeting her needs.
It has been two weeks now and my little Shala is thriving with grandma. Shala signs and nana knows how to help her. Shala’s three favorite signs are milk, more and tired. She uses tired when she wants to be held.
Thank you for helping us better communicate with our little girl. For us working mothers this means a whole lot.
Thank you Casey for your sweet note. If you are a mom about to go back into the workforce I hope this letter makes you smile. We love to hear your stories. You can send them to [email protected]
Fall is right around the corner and many pre-verbal little ones are about to begin a new phase in their life and for the first time attend daycare. If you are heading back to work and your baby or toddler is about to begin daycare or Montessori with none or very limited verbal skills consider teaching him the following baby signs:
If the needs and preferences of your little one are slightly different let us know in the comments. We would love to compare notes and find out which signs you feel are indispensable as your little one heads to daycare. Also consider giving your daycare provider a baby sign language wall chart
I frequently get questions from moms struggling with the pace of learning of their little ones. First-time moms are generally the ones most likely to reach out with concerns hoping that somewhere, somehow there is a by-the-book answer that tells us down to the minute when our babies will reach every single milestone.
General guidelines are without doubt helpful when it comes to child development and we often refer to them specifically as it relates to your baby signing. We have captured statistics by polling moms and have made observations with our own babies. For example, we know that the majority of babies will sign between 6 to 12 months and some will know up to five signs before their first birthday. But what if your baby does not follow this pattern? Don’t lose hope, all babies are in a constant process of learning and absorbing new information. Babies are processing and learning far more than we can ever imagine. Their pace of response can vary widely but every baby is learning and as a parent your role is to continue teaching:
Continue teaching joyfully-Your baby deserves it
Continue to innovate-Try new methods of teaching to discover baby’s learning style
Continue teaching lovingly-Your primary role is to nurture, learning will fall into place in due time
Continue to have hope-Babies can sense discouragement and apathy
Stop comparing-Your baby is unique and their progress should be measured and tracked against their own daily achievements.
You are doing well. Before you know it you will have a little walking chatterbox and you will face a completly different set of didactic challenges. Those too will be conquered in due time.