Written by Jennie Roper
Have you ever heard of Baby Signing?
No, Well neither had I until I had my first child over 15 years ago.
Baby Signing is a way for babies to communicate with you before speech by using signs.
It opens a whole new world of communication for your baby and family.
I went along to the baby signing classes with my daughter and enjoyed the music and songs and consistently did the signs back home with her not expecting too much until one day she did her first sign.
She could see a bird in our garden and signed ‘bird’ to me. It was the most amazing feeling. From then on, I was hooked.
The baby signing classes are so fun using props, a picture board and musical instruments to keep babies engaged whilst their parent/carer learns the signs to then use at home or while they are out and about with their baby.
The songs are fun and catchy, so you remember the signs easily whilst having lots of fun with your baby.
Through signing, my own children were able to let me know if they were hungry or thirsty, what they could see or hear and even if they needed their nappy changing!
Because they were able to communicate so well, it cut out a lot of frustration that you often have with a non-verbal baby.
For me personally, the time when signing was vitally important, was when my son could let me know that he had tummy trouble. He would sign to me that he was in pain and showed me where the pain was with the sign. We went back and forth between the doctors and the hospital for weeks. When he was finally sorted at the hospital, he woke up the following morning and signed to me that his pain was gone!!! (along with a big grin on his face)
If my son had not been able to sign, I would not have known where his pain was coming from and be able to let the doctor know where the problem was.
A question I am often asked is ‘Will baby signing delay speech?’
The answer is very simple, ‘No it does not’, because signs are never used in place of spoken words and your baby will be greatly encouraged to communicate verbally, not in any way discouraged.
Sing and Sign teaches keyword signing (always saying the word as you sign it)
The simplest way to appreciate this is to consider how ‘Bye Bye’ is often amongst the earliest words babies say. Think about how we all encourage babies to wave bye bye, recognising they will enjoy this and that it helps to make them aware of an important concept. Waving encourages a baby to verbalise ‘bye bye’ because of the positive feedback and enjoyment of the sign. The principle is exactly the same for signs used with any and all other words in the Sing and Sign programme.
I have now been running Sing and Sign in Andover for 10 Years and have not looked back.
The joy I feel from seeing other families being able to communicate with their baby through baby signing is the most rewarding job I have ever done.
If you know someone with a baby, tell them about baby signing and the benefits it will bring them.