Does My Baby Need a Pacifier?

Pediatrician and parenting expert author Dr. William Sears says that if your baby really wants a pacifier, “use it, don’t abuse it, and quickly try to lose it.”

Pacifiers can sure be useful. Not that I would know personally. I remember draped over the crib weeping, praying to God that my daughter would just keep the binky in her mouth for a half hour. But she didn’t. Ever. Because she had decided that I was the pacifier. I’ve heard that some mothers have better luck.

If you too are being used as a human pacifier, complete with the cracks and the bleeding, a pacifier might pacify you as well as your baby. Pacifiers also come in handy in those social situations where you really need baby to be quiet: the small family wedding, the graveside service, the red-eye flight, or the play you desperately want to see on the night you can’t find a babysitter. Pacifiers can also be a lifesaver when baby can’t get to mom. If mommy has to go to work, or wants to go get a massage, dad or grandma will probably want baby to have a pacifier!

Some pediatricians recommend not introducing the pacifier until baby is well established in his nursing routines. Even well-engineered pacifiers don’t feel the same as a human nipple, and if a baby is having trouble latching on, then a binky might only confuse him. But if you have a healthy, thriving, nursing baby who just needs a little bit more sucking than you wish to provide, you won’t hurt anything by investing $3 in a plastic pacifier.

The problem with pacifiers is that it is easy to overuse them, and too much use can lead to problems. A 1999 study found that binky babies tended to wean earlier than non-binky babies. (Some parents will find this to be good news. Some will not.) One study found that babies who used binkies were more likely to get ear infections. Babies who use pacifiers for too long (as in years) can develop an overbite. And prolonged pacifier use (as well as prolonged thumb sucking) can make baby’s teeth crooked.

Some pediatricians recommend allowing baby to suck a thumb or fingers instead of a pacifier. Some dentists and orthodontists disagree. The jury is still out on thumb vs. binky. But be warned, it’s more difficult to abolish the thumb habit than it is the binky habit. You can’t just throw her thumb out the window.

Acupuncture is for Babies Too?!

When I first told my friends that I was taking my baby girl to an acupuncturist, they looked like they wanted to have me arrested for child abuse. I think they pictured me pinning my baby down while some sadist filled her with pins. As if.

My daughter was born with horrific eczema, not an uncommon affliction for babies today. We were at the pediatrician’s office constantly, as painful eczema flare-ups turned into staff infections. My baby couldn’t sleep and I had to keep socks on her hands because she would scratch herself until she bled. It was a nightmare.

We tried expensive lotions, oils, and creams. We tried steroids. We tried bathing her and not bathing her. We emptied our home of all perfumes and fragrances. I stopped eating all forms of sugar and dairy. Nothing seemed to help.

So an acupuncturist didn’t seem all that crazy to me. Even though I had never been to one myself, I sought out a lovely licensed acupuncturist named Cristi. A mother herself, she assured me that she would not stab my daughter with anything. She also assured me that acupuncture is an effective treatment for eczema. Though my science-trained brain couldn’t comprehend how this was possible, I was in no position to dismiss it.

Cristi never used a needle on my daughter. Instead, she practiced “needleless acupuncture” using two tools, the taishi and the teishin, to stimulate points along my daughter’s body’s meridians. Cristi also prescribed us an incredibly affordable herbal treatment.

I won’t tell you that my daughter was cured after a single treatment. I won’t even tell you that acupuncture singlehandedly cured my daughter of her eczema. But I am confident that it helped. It certainly helped her to sleep better on the nights after her treatments. And what really amazed me was how much my daughter enjoyed her treatments. She was a miserable, itchy, squirmy 6-month-old, yet when Cristi got out her tools, she would sit up or lie down on the table and hold perfectly still. And at home, when I would bath her in the herbal treatments, she would coo and smile as if to say, “Whatever this is mom, keep doing it!”

Recent research supports that acupuncture is a viable treatment for many ailments for people of all ages. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota actually has a pediatric acupuncture center. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital captured images of babies’ brains during acupuncture and found patterns activated by acupuncture that looked much like patterns seen while the babies were at rest. This suggests that acupuncture is at least a way to relieve pain.

Check out this video of Baby Acupuncture!

Signing Approximations

Approximations are the signing equivalents of baby talk. Your baby is communicating and you understand him or her, although the sign is not technically correct and may be unrecognizable to other signing adults. Signs are rather complex movements to a baby, and it is likely that your baby will not use them correctly at first. For example, the sign Dad might just be a hand waving somewhere near baby’s head. You and baby know that this gesture refers to Dad, even though the sign is not correct.

It is important to encourage any signing efforts while also reinforcing correct usage. So, when my daughter signs Dad with her arm waving near her head, we encourage her by saying “Yes, Dad.” While we verbally encourage her, however, we demonstrate the correct usage (hand spread, thumb tapping on forehead). This way, she has a positive experience with signing while also continuing to learn the proper usage of signs.

This method, by the way, can also be applied to verbal language development. When children learn to speak, they also use approximations. While their baby talk might be cute, it is important to help them learn correct pronunciation to avoid speech problems. When a toddler exclaims “Look at the LELLOW dog, Mommy,” you can respond with “Yes, I see the YELLOW dog!”

Encourage effort while reinforcing correct usage.

A Safe Place for Your Baby

My daughter is now crawling and climbing at every opportunity. This is such a happy and exciting stage of her development, but one that also requires some extra safety considerations.

Car Safety. I am sure that all of you remember purchasing and carefully installing your baby’s first carseat in anticipation of his or her arrival. Take the time periodically to check that your carseat is still tightly secured and that the straps and buckles are all in the proper position. If you are not certain that the seat is properly installed, find a local resource for help (many fire stations and children’s hospitals will check the installation for you). Research the current advice on rear-facing versus forward-facing positions so that you can make an informed decision on that topic. And, of course, practice safe driving… the best way to avoid injury is to avoid car accidents in the first place.

House Safety. The subject of babyproofing your home is a lengthy one. This is just a reminder to actually take the time to do it. Do your research and find out what steps you need to take in order to make your home safe for your baby. Babyproofing services are widely available if you have a larger budget and wish to hire someone else to do the work.

Emergency Preparedness. Do you know where the closest children’s hospital is and how to get there? Is your pediatrician’s phone number programmed into your phone? Do you know infant CPR? Is your medicine cabinet stocked with basic first aid items and common medications for childhood illnesses (it is much easier to buy liquid Tylenol while grocery shopping than in the middle of the night when your baby wakes up with a high fever… I have learned that one the hard way)? Do you have a reliable book written by a pediatrician that addresses childhood illnesses and the appropriate treatments? I don’t want to scare anyone, but these questions are worth considering. Be smart and be prepared. Illnesses and injuries are never expected events, so take the time now to gather information. You can also teach intermediate and advanced signers a few basic signs around safety, such as hurt. So that if a situation does arise, baby can tell you she is hurt and where.

Keep your precious babies safe! No need to be neurotic about the whole thing (bruises and viruses are a fact of life), but please do be smart.

Signing Grandparents, A Great Gift to Everyone!

signing-with-grandparentsI know that my daughter isn’t the only baby out there with wonderful, adoring grandparents. I hope that your babies are similarly blessed with extended family members (I’ll refer to grandparents here, but this applies to all loved ones) who are involved in their very special young lives. Do your baby’s grandparents know about Baby Sign Language? If you are practicing BSL then it is time to bring the grandparents on board, too!

Getting other family members on board with signing helps increase baby’s exposure. And having other people on board also helps you stick with it. Grandparents love it as well, because it gives them an activity they can do with grandchildren.

If the grandparents are web-savvy, send them to over to our site. Otherwise, teach them a few basic signs in person. We recommend that grandparents start by learning the signs for grandma, grandpa, and two or three basic signs that are most relevant. Once they see how much fun (and useful!) it is to use Baby Sign Language, they are certain to be as enthusiastic about signing as you and your baby are.

Practice is the key to signing success. Every signing adult that your baby interacts with will offer opportunities to practice. Baby will be able to communicate more effectively with adults who understand Baby Sign Language. Ultimately, this increased communication will strengthen those relationships. What grandparent doesn’t want to be even closer to the beloved baby in their life?

Share your enthusiasm for Baby Sign Language with your baby’s grandparents and other special adults. You might just win a few new signing enthusiasts to join the fun!

One of the best ways to get started with our program is through the use of our beautifully designed baby sign language kits. Our kits are rated five stars and contain everything you need from pre-birth until preschool. Involvement, is a precious gift to give to every grandparent. Through our kits you equip grandma and grandpa to participate in the intellectual, emotional and cognitive development of your little one

baby sign language kit

The Standard Baby Sign Language Kit, bundles together everything you need to get started with signing in one box, at a steep discount. The kit includes: (1) Baby Sign Language Guide Book; (2) Baby Sign Language Dictionary: (3) Baby Sign Language Flash Cards; and (4) Baby Sign Language Wall Chart.

Baby Sign Language Guide Book shows you how to teach your child how to sign. The book begins with a Quick Start Guide that will teach you your first signs and having you ready to sign in 30 minutes. As your baby progresses, you can delve into more advanced topics like combining signs to make phrases, using props, and transitioning to speech. (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Dictionary contains over 600 signs including the most common words, the alphabet and numbers. The dictionary helps you expand your child’s vocabulary, and has the breadth of coverage that lets you follow any child’s natural interests. Each sign is illustrated with two or more diagrams, showing you the starting position, the ending position, and intermediate motion. This makes learning new signs easy.  (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards include 52 sturdy board (4×6 inches) flash cards, covering a variety of basic signs. The flash cards allow you to teach words, such as animal names, that Baby is not exposed to in everyday life. The face of the flash cards shows the word and image for the child. The back of the flash cards show how the sign is performed, a handy reminder for the adult.  (Regularly $24.95)

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart includes 22 basic signs, and makes a handy reminder for caregivers. The Baby Sign Language Wall Chart covers basic signs, like eat, drink, and sleep. Hang the poster in Baby’s Nursery to help babysitters, or other occasional caregivers learn and decode the most commonly used baby signs.  (Regularly $9.95)

100% Signing Guarantee

Your baby signs to your complete satisfaction, or you get a full refund.

No questions. No time limits. No regrets.

Baby Sign Language Guide Book

Learn the best techniques for effectively teaching baby sign language. Including:

•  Quick Start Guide – learn the first 10 signs and the basic principles required to start teaching your baby to sign (Chapter 1).

•  Advanced Teaching Methods – use teaching aids like books, flash cards, and toys to keep lessons interesting and challenging (Chapter 5).

•  Phrases – teach your baby to combine signs and communicate more complex thoughts (Chapter 6).

•  Taming the Terrible Twos – reduce frustration and tantrums by enabling your toddler to communicate (Chapter 7).

•  Transitioning to Speech – use sign language to expedite and improve speech development (Chapter 8).

baby sign language kit

Sarah learned her first 10 signs at six month and it made our lives much easier. Instead of screaming, she could tell us when she was hungry, thirsty, or tired. She learned another 50 signs by nine months and that was a blast. Now she is talking much earlier than the other children in her preschool and we think it is because of her signing.

We can’t imagine missing out on all the little things she shared with baby sign language. Thank You!

– Bennett & Melissa Z., CA

Pediatrician Approved

“It’s easy to see why so many parents swear by it, why child care centers include it in their infant and toddler classrooms, and why it has become so commonplace as an activity of daily learning … we approve.”

Heading Home With Your Newborn (Second Edition)

Dr. Laura A. Jana MD FAAP & Dr .Jennifer Shu MD FAAP

American Academy of Pediatricians

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards

52 high quality flash cards (4 x 6″). Featuring:

•  Clean Images – real life pictures, isolated on a white background to make learning easier.

•  Signs on the Rear – diagrams on the back illustrating the signign motion in case you need a reminder.

•  Baby Friendly – printed on thick stock so little hands can play with the cards and they will live to play another day.

baby sign language kit

I was thrilled to see how easy the signs were for Abigail (3) and Eden (21 months). Much to my surprise they could figure out many of the signs from the flashcards on their own.

– Carrie P., TX

Study: Signing Enriches

“The Sign Training group told us over and over again … [signing] made communication easier and interactions more positive.”

“these data demonstrate clearly that … [signing] … seems to “jump start” verbal development”

“can facilitate and enrich interactions between parent and child”

Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development

Dr. Susan Goodwyn, Dr. Linda Acredolo, & Dr. Catherine Brown

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

Baby Sign Language Dictionary

The Baby Sign Language Dictionary includes :

•  Words (500+) – learn signs for nearly every topic of interest.

•  Letters – sign the alphabet and teach basic spelling.

•  Numbers (0-10) – introduce counting and basic mathematics.

baby sign language kit

Nicholas loves his signs and it lights up our lives every time he shares one of his little secrets. He is so observant, and we would miss it all without the signs.

– Donald Family, NY

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart

The full color wall chart (24 x 36″) includes 17 everyday signs. Use the wall chart for:

•  Caregivers – help babysitters and other caregivers learn the basic signs so they can understand baby’s signs.

•  Family – teach family the basic signs so they can join in the fun.

baby sign language kit

Everyone thought I was nuts when I started. A month later, all my friends saw Michelle’s first signs. Then they wanted to know how they could start.

Michelle is talking now and doesn’t sign much anymore, but it gave her a headstart over other children her age. Everyone says she talks like a three year old. Now she is helping me teach her baby brother Jordan how to sign.

– Adelaide S., CA

Study: Better in School

A group of second graders who signed as infants, performed better academically than a control group six years later. The signers had a 12 IQ point advantage.

Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy at Age 8

Dr. Linda P. Acredolo (Professor, U.C. Davis)

Dr. Susan W. Goodwyn (Professor, California State University)

100% No Regret Guarantee

Your baby loves signing, or a full refund.

As you can tell, we love Baby Sign Language. It transformed the way we interacted with our children, and we want every family to have the opportunity. Baby Sign Language will make a difference for your child. Give it a try.

If for any reason you aren’t completely blown away, we will cheerfully give you a complete refund, including standard shipping. No time limit. We are that confident!

baby sign language kit

 

Five Little Monkeys Video Tutorial

In this video, we do the baby sign language for the song Five Little Monkeys. This song helps you and baby learn number signs. We do the numbers one, through five but you could easily expand the song as baby gets better and do ten little monkeys, or if you are doing a road trip ninety-nine little monkeys.

Transcript
Welcome to Baby Sign Language dot com. This is our video tutorial for the numbers one through five. And to teach the numbers one through five we are going to learn Five Little Monkeys. Ok, here is my one little monkey!

Here we go. The numbers one through five are done with the dominant hand with your palm facing you. You go one, two, three, four, five.
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Momma called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed.
Ok so we will go over that slowly.

You know the numbers. You do five, little – in this case do it like this to show that something is small. Monkey that’s easy. Jumping you make two legs jumping on a surface. On the bed, that’s easy too like you are going to sleep. Fell off, you do like you are jumping again then you fall off. Bumped his head, we used in Jack and Jill, it is the sign for hurt.

Momma called, that’s easy – telephone. Doctor – you take your dominant hand and it’s like you are taking a pulse. And the doctor said. No more monkeys, jumping on the bed.

As you know, you are probably familiar with the rhyme, you keep decreasing. So the next would be four monkeys jumping on the bed. Then keep going down until you have no more monkeys.

Thank you. I think we have reached the end of our attention span.

Family Baby Signs Video Tutorial

A quick introduction to the signs for family members including: mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, and cousin.

Transcript
Welcome to Baby Sign Language dot com. This is our video tutorial on family members. I am joined today by my daughter who is crawling so she may or may not stick around.

First of all, the signs for family member, all male signs are done above the nose. All female signs are done below the nose.

Secondly, you can substitute the spoken word you use for the proper name if you prefer. So you can use whatever term you like for grandmother as you sign grandma. Likewise you can use the proper name for brother when you sign brother.

Let’s get started. The sign for mom and dad are the same sign, just in a different position on the face. So we do momma. Just take you r five hand and tap on your chin. Mommy, mommy. Daddy is the same sign just higher up on your forehead. Daddy, daddy.

Grandma and grandpa are very similar. Just instead of tapping your chin for mommy you go away for grandma. So grandma. You start at your chin then you go out twice. Then grandpa. Grandma. Grandpa.

Ok. For uncle, this is the ASL letter U and you just do a little circle up at your forehead. Uncle. Uncle. And the sign for aunt. The ASL A is a fist like this with your thumb on the side and circle down at the jaw area. Aunt. So Uncle. Aunt. And again if you want to substitute the proper name that is ok. So if you have an Aunt Lauren, then you can do this for Aunt Lauren.

Now brother and sister are basically the same sign. Both of them you are going to do two L hands. And your non-dominant hand is going to be stationary at about chest level. How for sister you start at your chin level and tap down. Sister. Sister. Brother starts up at your forehead. Brother. Brother. Sister. Brother.

Ok. Finally we will do cousin. Cousin is just your big C hand. If you are just doing a cousin in general you can just wave it around here. A female cousin is down around the jaw and a male cousin is up here.

We hope you have enjoyed learning all the sign, have fun signing!

A World of Dogs and Milk

My daughter has mastered two signs, those for dog and milk. It is not uncommon for babies to apply those early signs to a wide variety of things. For example, the baby will sign milk when she wants to nurse, but also when she eats, is sleepy, or wants me to hold her. This is not incorrect usage when you consider what milk means to her; it is food, cuddling, mother, and a sleepy-time activity. Similarly, dog also means excitement and play time for her.

She has divided her world into two categories: Dogs and Milk. Dog refers to anything fun and playful. Milk refers to anything comforting and nourishing. Makes sense to me :)

How do you help baby to move beyond those 1st few signs in a positive way?

1st, acknowledge that baby is using signs to communicate. Say “Yes, good signing!”

2nd, offer baby a more accurate sign. For example, when Rose signs milk when she is eating solids, I say “Good signing, you are eating (while signing eat).”

Never discourage signing when a baby uses a sign inaccurately. Signing, even when somewhat inaccurate, is an amazing gesture of communication that requires advanced physical and psychological skills. Remember to keep signing fun and positive, and to enjoy the quirky ways in which your baby applies signs. Perhaps we are living in a world of Dogs and Milk after all.

Is My Baby Really Signing?

Infant gesturing - but is it a sign?Okay moms, do you remember those early months of pregnancy? Before your babies starting throwing champion punches in utero, you probably went through a stage of wondering whether or not you were feeling the baby’s movement. I remember feeling a fluttery sensation and wondering whether I was feeling my daughter’s first movements or just had indigestion.

Similarly, before you confidently recognize baby’s first sign, you will pass through a phase when you hope that baby’s ambiguous gestures are signs, but you suspect they are just the flailing motions of an excited baby with minimal muscle control. How can you tell whether your baby is signing or flailing? Honestly, you can’t. Just like those early pregnancy flutters, you can’t be sure until the movements progress and become unmistakable.

Go ahead, though, and give your baby the benefit of the doubt. Assume that he or she really is signing. Get excited, pull out the video recorder, call the grandparents, and post on Facebook that your baby is a signing prodigy. Baby Sign Language is Fun! So revel in those early moments of sign recognition, even if it turns out that your baby is just flailing. And guess what? Even if baby was not signing, when you do fuss over baby and encourage baby it will turn into real signing!

Jack and Jill with Baby Sign Language

The Jack and Jill nursery rhyme incorporating some baby sign language. Nursery rhymes are a great way to practice signs with infants who already have the basics down. Babies just love any kind of repetitive game and it is a great way for them to build their confidence. You can also sign along to a picture book or the story. Enjoy!

Transcript
Hi Welcome to Baby Sign Language dot com. I am about to teach you the signs for the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill. This is a fun little way you can do songs with your baby. It’s easy and incorporates some very basic signs.

I am joined here today by my eight month old daughter who seems to be minimally interested in learning these signs here today. So she is just here for entertainment.

Ok here we go.

First of all the signs that we are going to use for Jack and Jill are the signs for boy and girl so we are going to use boy for Jack and girl for Jill. So Jack and Jill went up the hill. So you just do you little legs and go up an invisible hill. To fetch a pail of water. Fetch, it’s like you are grabbing a broomstick with both hands. Pail, it’s like you are carrying a bucket. Water, make your W hand and tap it on your chin. So let’s do it again. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down. So it’s like he is standing and goes legs up. And broke his crown. This is the sign for hurt and when you do it up by your head it means you hurt your head. So broke his crown. And Jill came tumbling after. So she is standing on the hill and comes down.

So again from the beginning.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. So there you have it. A fun way to incorporate baby sign language with your child. I think it’s easy to remember, so have fun with it.

And I also wanted to let all of you know that we have created a Baby Sign Language Facebook page and are hoping to build an audience there. You can access that through our website BabySignLanguage.com. And stay tuned because in coming months we will do some giveaways exclusively through the Facebook page and you don’t want to miss out on that.

1st Foods… the Messy, Fun, and Challenging Way

Baby Eating Squash

My Daughter at 8 Months Feeding Herself Homegrown Squash

The vast majority of parents are very familiar with the small jars of purees known as “baby food.” As my daughter approached 6 months, the age at which I began offering solids, I began to contemplate this whole baby food issue. What did babies eat before supermarkets started stocking an entire aisle of these little jars? Do babies have to eat pureed food? And do babies have to be spoon fed?

My own mother skipped the pureed foods and spoon feeding, so I suspected that this was a viable option. After doing some research I came upon the idea of “Baby-Led Weaning.” In this case, weaning refers to starting solids, not to reducing bottle or breast feedings (I think it is a British use of the term, but don’t quote me on that). The basic premise of baby-led weaning is that from 6 months of age, baby is offered healthful table foods and allowed to self-feed. If you are interested in this method of feeding, here is additional information on the Baby-led Weaning website.

My daughter loved feeding herself from the moment I allowed her to grab food off of my plate. We started with well-cooked, soft produce such as zucchini, potatoes, and baked apples. Soon she was eating a wide variety of foods. I have never prepared any foods specifically for her to eat; she eats what my husband and I eat. And I have never spoon fed her. She loves to feed herself.

Is it messy? Very! Fortunately we have a dog who is happy to assist with clean-up. Do not be afraid of a little mealtime mess. Have a stash of bibs and a damp rag for wiping hands and faces (and tummies, toes, neck creases, ears…). The messy stage does not last forever, I promise.

And finally, I believe that self-feeding improved my daughter’s manual dexterity. She mastered her pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) very quickly after she started solids. By 7 months of age she could pick up a single grain of rice or a pea using her pincer grasp. I have no scientific data to prove it, but I confident that her fine motor skills have benefited from this style of eating.

So don’t assume that you have to feed your baby pureed foods with a spoon. That is a perfectly fine option, of course, but there are plenty of other styles of feeding that may hold greater appeal for you and your baby.