Baby signs are all the craze!
Wild videos of 8-month olds signing butterfly and truck. Makes you feel like your babe should really pick up the pace, right?
Welllllll, not exactly. Baby signs are great. They give kiddos an opportunity to use their big muscles (their hands) before those tiny muscles in their mouth develop.
However, many forget that signs are for communicating. And although impressive that the not-even-one-year old can respond to pictures on flashcards and do 10+ signs, they aren’t really conveying information to their parent.
The real objective is that kiddos use signs to tell us something.
For instance, “More singing!” or “I’m hungry!” or “Open this damn box!”
The cool thing is, kids communicate all of those things really nicely. Whether it be by pointing, grunting, looking to you for help, or having a total meltdown. With just a few signs, we can help them get their message to us faster and with less drama.
Here’s what they don’t tell you about signs:
1- Kids probably aren’t using signs to convey a message until around 12 months.
2- You don’t have to use the actual American Sign Language (ASL) sign. You can make up your own signs. For example, tap your head for "hat," pretend to eat/drink to show "hunger or thirst," or shake your arms high for "dance with me!"
3- Kids often do their version of a sign you teach, which is also okay! The important thing is that they do the same sign for one word; so consistency is key. Give them a good ole Bravo! for every attempt at signing.
4- Signs count as words! So if you’re feeling a bit worried that your babe hasn’t hit “their word count” in terms of milestones - know that the consistent signs they use to try to tell you something count as words (yes, even though they aren’t saying a thing).
My philosophy is that signs are just the stepping stone to spoken words. So often, once a kid is signing, the sounds and words quickly follow.