Yesterday I spoke to a beautiful new mom who happens to be in book club. She had her little one in tow and I could not help it notice she had transitioned from joining us in yoga pants to a dressier look. After I had complimented her on her beautiful silk top (You know the long-tunic-like blouses that are so flattering as mama figures change) she mentioned that after a one year maternity leave she was back to the workforce part-time and feeling just a little anxious. Another mom joined our conversation and I could not help it but admire her poise and confidence when it came to encouraging others and giving practical tips. I was also delighted to hear how she has used baby sign language as a transitional communicational tool when getting ready to send her babies to daycare. Among many really great tips I was able to glean these ideas that I now share with you trusting they will help when the time comes for you to head back to the office.
First & Foremost Teach Your Child About Confidence
From the moment you bring baby from the hospital engage in routines that provide your little certainty about their safety, provision and having their voice heard. Through teaching your baby basic baby signs and acknowledging the sign through gratification you are showing your little one how communication equips us to have our needs met and gives us the freedom to walk in confidence that we can approach the adults that care and convey our needs with certainty that they will do what it takes to meet baby at the point of their need. A child that is confident in how he or she relates with their caregivers will have a more calmed demeanor and will transition better into daycare. As you work with your baby to teach him or her their first signs involve the extended family to reinforce the idea that gestural communication goes beyond mommy and daddy.
Consider Working on Signs That Meet Basic Needs
Sometimes motherhood can be fun and whimsical and we are tempted to teach our baby fun signs that will not necessarily meet a basic need. I recall a little baby girl in my neighborhood that was able to sign butterfly, fan and boat way before learning how to sign milk and more. She had learned most of her signs by watching signing DVDs so she had the option to pick the ones she loved the most. When you are working with your baby and getting them ready to transition to daycare make sure the signs you select and driven by the desire to meet their basic needs from being hungry to being cold, sleepy or hurting. Having a needs-based signing vocabulary will be very helpful once baby transitions to group care.
Create a Code of Love
Babies thrive in familiarity and routine. Aside from the basics pick a sign or two aimed at conveying love and tenderness to your little one. From signing ILU to signing hugs from a distance after dropping your little one at daycare having a code of love can give your little one a sense of security and continuity through visual feedback.
Use Signs in Song to Soothe Separation Anxiety
Music is essential in the emotional and intellectual development of your baby. Pick songs that comfort your little one and provide continuity. Include a few relevant and easy signs. If at all possible let your caregiver know about your songs of choice and ask the caregiver to use the songs when managing your baby’s stress and anxiety.
This is our favorite song and the one we have used as the “sign for comfort” song:
Work on Signs that Make Mornings Easier
Once you are back in the workforce and your baby is turning into a toddler work on learning signs that make the morning routine easier. Think about the signs that will help your baby eat, take a bath and get dressed so you can both leave the house on time.
If you know a mom who is about to go back to work share this website with her or why not send her the baby sign language kit to help her in this very special life transition.