Monday, November 17, 2014

Mama Monday: Baby signs

One of the hardest things about becoming a mom is trying not to compare your baby to other babies. You hear "Every baby is different" over and over and it's true. And you know this. But it still doesn't keep you from having a minor panic attack when your child can speak two words and her same-age little play buddy recites Shakespeare (ok, he doesn't really, but it's coming. I can tell).

Punkito is a remarkably quiet child. She doesn't talk much. She didn't babble or coo much when she was itty bitty. She doesn't try to mimic our sounds. By her 18-month appointment, she had maybe five words.

But we know she understands. She processes everything and responds correctly. She just chooses not to try to talk, for whatever reason. And it has lead to some frustration, because she clearly knows what she wants and why the heck can't her stupid parents figure it out???

A friend suggested we try some baby basic sign language. We were absolutely shocked by how fast she picked it up. After showing her just a few times, she now uses five of them regularly and those five can pretty much communicate all her needs to us.

If you couldn't hear me in the video, her five main signs are "more," "eat" (or "food"), "drink," "milk" and "all done." Yes, I'm aware she does not sign "drink" correctly, but this is how she is able to do it and I know what it means and so it serves its purpose. She's not working on a degree here, folks. Just wants some water.

When we decided to try it, I searched the web for some basic baby signs and came across this list from Babble. I found the pictures and descriptions pretty clear. I recommend it as a good starting point. We started with "more" and she got the hang of it after just a few tries. It's her most used sign and it applies to everything. Anything she wants more of - books, food, drinks, swinging, anything. It's great. As she learned the basic signs, she's also starting to associate them with words, too. We realized she is actually saying "eat," we just didn't know that's what it was. Along with the sign, we can hear and recognize it now.

We have moved on to some videos that we borrowed from a friend called Baby Signing Time. The Ems is just fascinated by them. I can put one on while I'm making dinner and she will watch and learn while I cook. The main lady annoys the heck out of me, but the signs are clear, the repetition is obviously useful, and Em loooooves looking at all the babies and listening to the songs. She hasn't started doing any of the new signs yet, but I have a feeling she's perfecting them in her head and she's going to bust out with all of them any day now.

Overall, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience for us and I wish we would have started with her sooner. Next kid's getting started right out of the womb. Bam.

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