Jasmine: Since Dylan was seven months old, I have been teaching him how to sign.
Why signs? I heard that pre-verbal babies can experience frustration when they aren’t able to express what they want, so signing is a way to reduce unnecessary tears for both parent and child. It may also help babies pick up speech faster if you consistently reinforce the sign with the spoken word.
The signs are actual American Sign Language (ASL), we started with “milk” at seven months old. Basically before every feed, even at night, I would ask Dylan if he wanted milk while signing “milk” in front of him. Within two weeks, he was able to pick up the sign and sign back to me whenever he was hungry. When my helper and mum saw that Dylan could sign, they started signing to him too, and that helped him learn all the faster!
Around one year old, which is when most babies are developmentally ready to learn signs (even within a day!), we started teaching Dylan more signs. We chose about half a dozen recommended signs, which I printed out:
Now, Dylan has a small repertoire, mostly centered on food and mealtimes, which includes
-please (Dylan loves this, he knows he is practically assured of more raisin bread or another go on the kiddy ride when he says “please”)
-more (very useful sign when he isn’t full!)
-all done (another very useful sign to indicate when he has had enough)
The good thing about the last three signs is that they can be used in many contexts, not just mealtimes. Dylan signs “please” and points to the door when he wants to go out. He also knows how to ask for “more” when he wants to read a book again. The one thing he doesn’t like is “all done” coz that means he has to go home or stop playing. Haha.
Here’s a video showing how we combine the signs at mealtime:
It’s been quite fun (and i imagine empowering) for Dylan and us too, being able to communicate with him at this early age!