Adventures in baby signing

I'd decided long ago (pre-baby) that I was going to try baby sign language. It just made sense to me that a little one would appreciate a way to express herself before her verbal skills caught up to her brain. And, the research was very compelling:

"...helping babies learn to talk and jumpstarting their intellectual development, a number of very important social-emotional benefits were revealed. [Drs.] Acredolo and Goodwyn found that signing with hearing babies:
- reduces frustration, biting and other aggressive behaviors.
- helps parents and teachers be more observant and responsive.
- builds trust between babies and their parents and caregivers.
- allows babies to share their worlds revealing just how smart babies really are.
- promotes positive emotional development.
- boosts babies' self-confidence and builds self-esteem."

A positive, trusting, self-confident, non-bitey baby? Yes, please!

After Roo was born, I started looking around for baby signing teaching tools.

Our very sweet neighbor gave us Baby Einstein's My First Signs DVD, which is cute and pretty well done (let me know if you want to know more about it). But, since we'd also decided that the baby wouldn't be watching TV for a few years (I know, we're such hippies), the DVD-watching was not an option.

So I was pretty excited when I found the mocobabies Infant and Toddlers Signing Flash Cards. The product description said it included "baby's first signs as well as other food, animal and around the house signs" and that it was an iParenting award winner! (Not sure what an iParenting award winner is! But it sounds important! Smart marketing!) The cards were a little pricey at $25, but they came in a stylish retro-style tin and touted as drool-proof (it's true!).

So far, I haven't used them in the traditional flash-card sense. Mostly, I've taped them up strategically around the house, so I can sign the words as they come up. (Hmm...come to think of it, I probably should have purchased the mocobabies Little Helper Signing Stickers instead.)

I'm sure you want the list of words. I did. So here they are. I even alphabetized them!
Apple, Airplane, Banana, Ball, Bath, Bear, Bird, Bread, Car, Carrot, Cat, Cheese, Cookie, Cow, Cracker, Dog, Doll, Eat, Elephant, Finished, Fish, Flower, Frog, Grapes, Hippo, Horse, Lion, Milk, Monkey, More, Mouse, Pear, Peas, Pig, Telephone

My one complaint: I think I could do without not-so-useful signs such as "horse" and "lion"--and would've liked more helpful words like "sleep" and "thank you". In fact, I've been referencing this ASL online resource more and more (I sort-of wish I'd found the site sooner...).

I guess the last thing you'd want to know is--does it work? Well, I can't answer that yet. There are so many variables. I've been using around 20 signs somewhat regularly for the past 3-4 months. Apparently, babies don't start signing back to you until they're 8-14 months old. At 9 1/2 months, Roo finally signed two whole words back to me! But they were her own adaptation of the sign. "Eat" sort of looks like "I'm going to throw up." Easily missed if I wasn't looking!

I'll keep you posted.

Next time: The Snugglenest!



Ever since I added solids to Roo's diet at 6 months, the babe has been feeding herself. I cut up and place the items on her highchair tray: fresh foods like organic banana, avocado, pear, peach, green beans, blueberries (her favorite), grapes, whole wheat pasta spirals, and, of course, Cheerios. She seems to really enjoy the autonomy. Funny how a little sprite out in this world a mere 9 months could derive pleasure from independence. But, that's a whole other discussion.

Naturally, half of what she's "eating" ends up on the floor, on the chair, in her clothes, in her hair. The clean-up logistics were starting to get a little ridiculous. So a few weeks ago, I dished out the 17 bucks and bought one of these supersized bib thingees made by Bumkins. What a brilliant thing! It covers her entire body, it's waterproof, and soft enough that she doesn't try to rip it from her body (which she often does with the cute Mexican oilcloth bibs I got for her. So much for raising a hipster baby!). The bib even has a front pocket to catch the falling food. You know, for a little snack later! To clean up, I simply run it under hot water from the kitchen faucet to rinse off, then hang it up to dry. Easy. And these days, easy is king.

I think as she gets toddling, Roo can still use this bib as an artist smock when she makes her first strokes as a world-renowned painter. So all in all, this was definitely a great buy!

Next time: mocobabies Signing Flash Cards