Even before my daughter was born, I knew that I wanted to use sign language to communicate with her before she could talk. Baby sign language is the use of a signed language with a preverbal baby. Using sign language with a baby offers a number of benefits including the potential for increased communication: A preverbal baby who is not yet talking or not talking much can still communicate through signs.
Although my daughter is talking some, her vocabulary is still quite limited. In my house, toddler talking includes mama and dada as well as the more recent boo (baa) when playing peek-a-boo and woof (wah) when talking about what the dog says. My daughter also babbles a lot. She particularly loves reading her books aloud to herself.
In addition to a few recognizable words and quite a lot of babbling, my toddler daughter also signs two words. She opens and closes both hands to indicate that she wants something, using a modified version of the sign for want. Poppy also uses the sign for milk.
The sign for milk is one of the most common signs that parents and babies use when communicating with baby sign language. To sign milk, begin by holding the hand by the side of the mouth next to the cheek. Squeeze the fingers and thumb of the hand into a fist in a motion similar to milking a cow.
Milk is the first sign that my husband and I used with our daughter. Milk is also the only sign that he and I use consistently with Poppy. Any time my husband would offer her her cup of milk while I was at work, he would sign milk. Often when I would offer to nurse her, I would use the sign for milk as well. At some point along the way, Poppy picked up the sign as well. Now whenever she wants to nurse with me or wants her sippy cup with James, Poppy signs milk.
As a linguist, I am more than thrilled that my toddler daughter is signing in addition to talking. And I can certainly attest that using baby sign language has helped with communicating with a toddler. Even though she cannot talk that much yet, Poppy can sign. By being able to sign that she wants to nurse, she gets a lot less frustrated in expressing on of her basic needs.
Do your children sign any words using baby sign language?
Sign for Milk in American Sign Language © 2011 The Parenting Patch