A Sign of the Times
A Sign of the Times: How Sign Language can Improve Communication with You Baby
It’s two-o’clock in the morning. You finally get the baby down and just start to drift off to sleep – and then it starts again. The crying, the wailing. What could be wrong? You fed her, bathed her, changed her and tucked her in complete with her favorite blankie.
As frustrating as that is for parents, imagine how hard it is for babies whose only means of communication is crying. Wouldn’t it be great if they could tell us if their hot, cold, sleepy, hungry, or just plain grumpy.
Misty Felner is a sign language instructor. She is convinced that using sign language opens up communication between parents and their babies. According to Felner babies are able to use basic signs before their vocal cords are fully developed. She says that you can begin teaching sign language from birth to two years and claims that “the earlier you start the more benefit you will see.”
There are many benefits to sign language with number one being taking the guess work out of interpretation of your babies needs. Even after your baby begins to speak, signing can supplement their broken language making it easier to understand. Felner says, “As your child learns to talk, there will be times that you find it difficult to understand her vocal words, signing provides more clues to what your child is trying to say.” Felner also sites additional benefits including:
Strengthens the family bond – Giving your child the gift of sign language allows them to share their feelings and thoughts with you. You can have a better understanding of your child’s unique personality and what makes them happy and what sets them off.
Eases frustration, crying and tantrums – Easily solve your child’s problem without the stressful, time consuming guessing game. Babies are able to get their needs meet quickly and parents can enjoy more peaceful time free of crying and tantrums.
Builds self esteem and self confidence - Your baby will be able to influence her world from a very young age by initiating and participating in conversations while her non-signing peers are limited to grunting, pointing, and crying. Your baby is also likely to be more stable emotionally since she feels understood and validated long before she is able to speak.
Increases I.Q., language skills and the ability to pay attention – Signing with your baby increases his vocabulary and language skills by providing an early foundation for language. Babies can sign a 2 to 3 word phrase long before they can speak a spoken sentence.
Fosters a love of books and more sophisticated play – Because a baby who signs can interact more as you are reading, signing babies tend to develop earlier pre-reading skills. The natural gestures of American Sign Language also lend themselves to playing more imaginatively.
Teaching a baby sign language is not difficult or complicated. According to Felner, “the same way they learn a spoken language, you model the signs as you go about playing and doing your daily activities.” There are books, classes, and many resources on the internet that can demonstrate basic signs and provide techniques for teaching the signs to your baby.
According to Felner, “learning to sign with your baby is giving your baby the gift to communicate.” She signs with her little girl consistently and is beginning to teach her newborn basic signs. She says, “I can’t imagine not signing with my first daughter and learning when she first noticed the moon or seeing her tell her daddy how she went swinging and sliding at the park. I look forward to the day my second signs her first words and really seeing what she sees.”
Are you interest in taking a Baby Sign Language Class?
Classes to teach parents to sign with their babies are now available with Misty Felner at the new Peppermint Baby Boutique in Richardson.
Peppermint Baby Boutique
1778 N. Plano Rd., Suite 100
Richardson, Texas 75081
Date: Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. starting March 5 (8 week session) or Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. starting March 6 (8 week session)
Additional session: Mondays at 3:00 p.m. starting March 31
Cost: $80 per person or $120/couple