Signing has been an amazing experience for us. It has been a great stress reliever to me to be able to just ask Flintstone what he wants or needs and not to have to guess or frustrate him further by offering him a celery stick when what he really wants is a drink or a diaper change. Plus, you can clearly see the joy on his face when he knows what he's saying is understood. He loves using his signs and is always excited to learn new ones. I just wish I was better at keeping up with him!
We started signing to Flintstone at birth with the "milk" sign when nursing. When he started on solids at 6 months, we added the signs for "hungry" (though we actually use the ASL sign for eat because it's clearer) and "more." While it became clear that he was starting to understand the signs around 7 or 8 months, he didn't really start trying to mimic them until 10 months, and then it was only a little here and there. Since we could see he understood the signs, we gradually introduced more even though he didn't do them to encourage him. And it worked!
Just a few days after his first birthday, we arrived home from a looooong car trip. As soon as we got into the house and I put Flintstone down, he looked at me and said "Buh!"
"What?" I asked and signed.
He toddled toward the hallway, stopping at the doorway and turning to me. "Buh!" he yelled again, and started excitedly doing the sign for "bath." We were so excited to encourage the sign and confirm to him that he had it right that before we even started unloading the car, MacGyver took him back for a bath.
Side Note: Flintstone is very into cleanliness. I think he does the signs for "bath," "wash hands," and "change" more than any others - even "milk!" He's also way ahead of his age group in using utensils, which I think is largely because he doesn't like to touch his food (and also partially because he thinks it's cool). And the first thing he does if he can get his hand on a washcloth or towel (or baby wipe or dryer sheet), is wipe his face with it. My little neat freak. Apparently, that's typical of Virgos. More likely, I think he gets it from MacGyver.Starting with the sign for bath, Flintstone began to pick up more signs every day. By the time he hit 14 months, the kid was on some sort of insatiable langauge binge. He could not get enough of new signs/words. He always wanted new signs and would get visibly impatient with me when I didn't know a sign. I couldn't keep up with him!
Actually, I still can't. I don't think he knows the maximum number of signs for his age (he's 16 months now), but that is only because we haven't been able to keep up with teaching him new ones. We're still making progress, though, and he's still learning new signs every day.
So far, Flintstone knows the following signs:
- Milk (as in asking to nurse)
- More (and I'm very impressed at his deapth of understanding of this concept. He knows he can use this sign to get more food or water, but he also knows he can use it to get more of a particular treatment. For instance, if MacGyver is bouncing Flintstone on his knee and stops, Flintstone will immediately ask for more)
- All Done
- Pouch (as in those organic baby food pouches with the attached "straw;" he loves those things)
- "Give me/I want" for items he does not know the sign for.
- He also points
- Change [diaper]
- Wash hands
- Brush Teeth
- Bird (ok, this still looks more like the fish sign, but he does it pointed at the sky, so we know what it means)
- Blows kisses (not sure if this counts as a "sign," but it's super adorable AND it's a form of communication
- Ball (though he almost never does this sign because he can say ball - and he enjoys saying it, very LOUDLY)
- Uncle Boo
- No (of course ;-) )
- O's (as in those little organic veggie baby puffs)
- Phone (which is extra cute because when he puts the phone sign up to his ear he says "Hello?")
- Freeze (for frozen breastmilk or veggie pops)
Even though I started out with a baby sign language book for teaching him the signs, I lost it somewhere along the way, and eventually read that it can be more advantageous in the long run to use regular American Sign Language. So now I just look up ASL signs on the internet when I want to teach a new one to Flintstone. And as an added bonus, Punky is picking up on a lot of them, too. I may look into an overall ASL class. ASL is, after all, the third most prevelant language in the world.
Some people worry that learning to sign will slow down a baby's speech development, but research has soundly disproven that - as has our own experience. Flintstone has been able to babble and talk at or above his age level all along. He says Mama, Milk, More (though I would guess that only MacGyver and I can really tell the difference between the words he uses for milk, more, and mama), Dada, Cat (which is freaking adorable because it looks like he's hissing at the cat when he does it), Dog, BALL! (he does not say ball, he always says BALL!!), Tickle Tickle Tickle, Hello (on the phone), buh bye, TaTa (which means give me, as in TaTa Mommy the whisk - one of his favorite toys), Bath, Thank You, and at least a few others. He actually just said a new 2 syllable word yestderday and brilliant mommy can't remember it right now!
Of course, most of his spoken words are baby versions (Dog is DAH!, etc.), but he does say Tickle, Tickle, Tickle very clearly, and it's hilarious.
I'm now trying to figure out the best track to take for a whole new round of signs for him. I'm thinking these are the next ones we'll be working on:
- Hurt (esp useful for teething pain since the Ped thinks he's already starting to get his 2 year molars)
- Sister - for whatever reason it never occured to us to teach him this one. Probably because he learned to say Mama and Dada so early that we never really taught him family signs.
- Outside (though he can already clearly tell us when he wants to go outside)
- I'm also contemplating starting to introduce emotion signs like Sad and Happy
|Flintsone doing the "Chicken" sign while peeking through the fence at them.|