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Baby Sign Language: Our Experience

2010 February 23
by MieVee @ MummysReviews.com

I first learnt about sign language for babies during my pregnancy. It sounded interesting but I did not think that it was essential. After Vee was born, he proved himself to be a colicky cry-baby (especially at night), and we tried very hard to guess what he needed. I re-visited the idea of baby sign language and invested in the Baby Signs® Parent Kit (bought from The Baby Loft, listed price: RM180), hoping to improve communication between Vee and us.

The Parent Kit provided very clear instructions on how to introduce sign language to Vee. The articles in the Special Topics section provides convincing evidence on the potential benefits of the Baby Signs® Program on the “social, emotional, cognitive and language development of babies”.

Ever since Vee was a young baby, I incorporated sign language into our daily activities, such as feeding time, bath-time, nursery rhymes and bed-time stories. When he was about 8 months old, I bought the Baby Signs® Concept Cards (Set 2) (listed price: RM70 or USD15.99) to inject more fun into learning the signs. (Set 1 was out of stock at that time.)

Finally at 10 months old, Vee showed us his first hand sign for ‘milk’ and we were elated! As his palmer and pincer grasps improved, he started picking up many signs, and it has become much easier to meet his needs. This led to a more contented baby. Our objectives met at last! (Read his developmental updates at 11 months and 12 months.)

Beyond these initial objectives, we also realised that Vee learns very effectively when signs are incorporated in songs. Often, he would start signing on his own while attempting to sing and we could guess the song that he is thinking of. His speech has also developed well at the same time. Interestingly, he has never done the signs for “Daddy” and “Mummy”, and proceeded straight to saying “Da” and “Ma”. It is likely that he pronounces the easier words and signs the more difficult ones.

We are very pleased to have invested the time to introduce baby sign language to Vee.

P.S. Do you use sign language with your baby? What has your experience been like?

Baby Signs® Parent Kit:

What we like about it:

  • Clear step-by-step instructions for parents
  • Well-illustrated cartoons to show each sign (I didn’t even need to watch the DVD to learn the signs!)
  • Large number of signs relevant to baby’s daily activities
  • In-depth articles to prove the effectiveness of using baby sign language
  • An overall convenient reference guide

What can be improved:

  • Include more signs in the glossary (I’m a greedy Mummy!)
  • Include more signs in the flip guide (there are less signs here than in the glossary)

Baby Signs® Concept Cards (Set 2):

What we like about it:

  • Thick and water-resistant cards that withstand baby’s rough handling

What can be improved:

  • The sign for “happy” is repeated in the set (Could have included another sign instead)

Get Your Own

You may check the price at Amazon.com here: Baby Signs Parent Kit*

*: affiliate link to support the growth and maintenance of Mummy’s Reviews™

19 Responses leave one →
  1. February 24, 2010

    Hey MieVee, glad to find another Baby Sign Mummy. We are Baby Sign Family for almost a year now. Hop to my blog & do share your experience with Baby Sign so more mommies & daddies too will motivated to do the same. It’s under label ‘Adore BABY SIGN’.

    Btw, we’re going for Potty Party by Baby Sign this Saturday.

    • February 24, 2010

      Hi Hanz, just read through many of your blog articles. I feel very much the same passion towards breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, co-sleeping and baby-signing. By the way, Potty Party sounds cute! :)

  2. February 25, 2010

    We used to use Sign Language with Gavin when he was little. He picked up speech very quickly and stopped using it after he could talk. Did he learn to speak earlier because of the Sign Language? I really don’t know. But it was handy for that period when he couldn’t talk.

    Gavin and I learned to sign from Signing Time. It is a DVD series created by Two Little Hands. Rachel Coleman’s story is very inspirational – http://www.signingtime.com.

    Initially bought Baby Signing Time and then I bought the rest of the Signing Time collection when Gavin showed interest. Gavin was still watching them and singing to the songs even after he learned to speak and stopped signing. Signing then became a game between us. We still occasionally sing and sign and listening to the audio CDs in the car.

    Before I bought Signing Time, I also bought a book about Signing. For me, I found it easier to learn from the DVD. There were some signs in the book that I interpreted wrongly from the pictures. I don’t know if it is just a difference in signing style or if I didn’t understand it.

    I definitely intend to teach Sign to my second child who is now three months. I’ve already taught him milk and the alphabets.

    • February 25, 2010

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Shen-Li.

      Indeed, we also find that Vee’s speech is developing well while he is learning signs. At least our experience show that speech development is not hindered by using signs. Apparently, there are people who think that using signs would lead to speech delay.

      I haven’t learnt the signs for alphabets yet, that shall be my homework. :)

    • Jojoki permalink
      March 31, 2010

      We use Baby Signing Times too!!! We LOVE IT!!! LOVE the songs. love the signs and we are big fan of Rachel. (Her personal testimony is inspirational!!)

      Net started signing at 9 months her first sign was “more” then “milk” now she can sign over 30 words and have a vocab of over 20 words. She is able to incorporate two words too at 13 mths now. If she wants milk, she will say “mama, milk” or if she wants ball , “ball pish (please)”

      We are so glad we found BST, Net has definitely learnt a lot from it!

      • March 31, 2010

        Hi Jojoki, thank you for your comment. Glad that Net is benefitting very well from Baby Signs — using 2 words is a wonderful progress! I need to keep learning more signs to teach Vee too. :)

  3. February 27, 2010

    That’s what a lot of people thought when I told them I taught Gavin to sign. They would ask, “Won’t that delay his speech?” The natural assumption is that a child who can communicate through other means will not be motivated to learn how to speak.

  4. Jamie permalink
    March 2, 2010

    so helpful!
    thank you for posting!
    cant wait to start baby signing with my bebe

  5. juliana permalink
    February 7, 2011

    hi Mievee,

    do u think i still can teach my gal sign language at 21mths?
    i had always wanted to try but couldn’t find any book based on UK English. i was told that there’s a difference between UK and US English sign language so I was apprehensive about US sign language books

    • February 7, 2011

      HI Juliana, sure, you can teach your girl sign language at any age, as long as you think she’d benefit from it. I started learning it with Vee only in my late 20’s. :)
      We use UK English at home; I’m not aware of UK sign language materials though, so we use the US version. Since we’re using it only at home, it’s fine for us. For some words, we even make up our own signs, which is encouraged by the Baby Signs guide book. My objective is to allow my boy to communicate his needs to me, so as long as we can understand each other, I’m happy.

      If you forsee your girl’s need to use sign language over a longer period, then how about seeking help from professionals specialising in children’s speech? In the meantime, you can still teach your girl a few basic signs. Young children learn very quickly, so if you need to replace the sign later on, they should be able to pick it up too.

      • juliana permalink
        February 23, 2011

        hi Mievee,
        thx for the info, jus wanted to expose her to sign language in case she needs to use it in future.
        will go look for the recommended book. thx agn!

      • February 23, 2011

        You’re most welcome! :)

  6. February 6, 2013

    Hi MieVie,

    I just became a Baby Signing Time Instructor in Malaysia and was searching about signing babies in Malaysia. I bumped into this article and found all these comments about signing with babies. Would love to hear more from other signing families, no matter which product or method they’ve used. Would you care leaving a testimonial or your experience about signing on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ibuandme

    Shen-Li,
    The difference with the Signing Time range is they aim to teach ASL (American Sign Language) to everyone and not just babies. So they are great for anyone wanting to learn it! I fell in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with their songs even before I was an instructor. So happy to have found other Signing Time fans 😀

    Juliana,
    Here’s a bit about sign language. The ABCs in US Sign Language uses only 1 hand, while UK uses two hands. The sentence structure in sign language is totally different from English. Remember it IS a different language. Although Malaysia focuses more on British English, it doesn’t mean we have to use UK sign language. In fact, the MySL (Malaysia Sign Language) is more similar to that of ASL as the ABCs and certain vocabulary are the same. But it is a personal choice whether you want to teach your baby ASL or BSL (British Sign Language).

    Hope this helps for those wanting to sign with their babies Do share with us your signing experience. We’d love to hear more!

    • February 7, 2013

      Hi Nurul, great that you’ll be sharing the goodness of signing with more parents and babies. Feel free to link up to this blog post from your Facebook page. :)

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