One of the hardest parts of mothering a very small child is the frustration of seeing your child in distress, and not knowing why. I remember when daughter was only a few months old and she'd start crying incessantly. I couldn't simply ask her what she needed – so most often I found myself going through a “checklist.”
Diaper? Nope, dry. Hungry? No, just ate. Bored? No, not interested in toys. Sleepy? Nope, won't settle down to sleep.
These crying sessions could get lengthy, and sometimes, I never figured out what she needed. It usually wound up with both of us in tears. The worst part was knowing that I had months – maybe years – ahead of me until her vocabulary would develop enough to help me out a bit.
Thankfully, I was able to teach her a handful of signs – and it saved us both a lot of heartache. I didn't really know what I was doing, though, so we only got four functional signs in over a year.
Now that I have another pre-verbal little one (5 months old), I was thrilled to review this kit from Baby Sign Language. It really opened my eyes to the potential my son has for being able to communicate with me before he can speak verbally!
The kit comes with a sign language dictionary including more than 600 signs, a set of flash cards, a large poster demonstrating several popular signs and a comprehensive teaching guide.
The teaching guide alone was incredibly helpful. Not only does it discuss the most efficient way to teach signs and what sort of expectations a parent can have for a time frame of learning, it gave me confidence that I was teaching my children the “right” way – a way that can help my children reach their full potential. While much of the instruction focuses on infants, there is a chapter about toddlers that came in handy – “Taming the Terrible Two's.” (Um, sign me up, please).
The sign language dictionary was surprisingly helpful as well. Instead of written descriptions that could be very confusing, it utilizes a comic book style to demonstrate the signs so that parents or care providers can visually learn the words.
Using the dictionary and the teaching guide together, I started working on teaching my infant some basic signs, and my toddler some more advanced ones. My infant son, of course, will not be able to sign back for a few months yet – but my toddler is able to pick up the signs after only being shown once or twice. It's already been a huge help!
For example, her words for “banana” and “peanut butter” both sound the same – kind of like “munner.” I was able to quickly look up the signs for “banana” and “peanut butter” and teach them to her. She learned the sign after only a few days of me signing it to her in context – and it's made us both a little happier that we can understand each other!
Here's my DD demonstrating the sign for “Peanut butter.” She just wiped her finger across her hand, like a knife over bread.
I plan to teach both children as many signs as I can. Signing, even without guidance, was a total lifesaver for me when my daughter was an infant. Now that I do have guidance, I can't wait to find out what all those gibberish words from my toddler mean – and what that fussing from my son means!
Learn more about the Baby Sign Language Kit from Babysignlanguage.com here.