I can't believe how much my little Snow Pea is changing every day! She is developing new skills and I am seeing lots of signs. Specifically, signs that's it's time to start baby signs! Eliana is getting more and more aware of the world around her and is also becoming more vocal about it. She "talks" to everything she sees: me, Daddy, her mobile, her play mat and even her changing table. With this new found awareness of the world, she has also become even more aware of her hands and is constantly watching them and moving them to see just how much they're capable of. Her favorite thing is, of course, grabbing rattles and rings that hang in front of her or grasping onto her blankets and bibs promptly pulling everything into her mouth. But sometimes she simply twists her hands and fingers into different configurations, watching closely to see just what these amazing appendages of hers are capable of. And now I am thinking about what they're capable of too!
I have read a few of books, attended a new mom group that covered some signing basics and best of all I received a hand made sign instruction kit from my fabulous sister in law, who teaches a baby sign course (you can find the Facebook page for her class "Signing Fun for Babies" here) So I know the basics. Now I just need to get started.
I have decided to start simply and think about the words I say to her on a daily basis and begin incorporating the signs for those things when I say them. What I didn't realize however, is that many of these common words and phrases have different signs associated with them and I would have to decide which ones to use. There is a difference between American Sign Language and baby signs. Because many of the ASL signs are too intricate or detailed for an infant's little hands, many of the ASL signs have been modified to make them simpler. The problem is that depending on what resource you turn to to learn these modified versions, you will get slightly different signs.After researching video dictionaries on some of these words, I am opting to use signs that seem the simplest to understand and repeat with favoritism toward the signs closest to ASL signs. And what I am learning when using your hands to communicate with your baby, the most important factor is your baby. If can use whatever hand gesture I want to teach her to communicate with me. And if she modifies or makes one up herself that's great too! No two babies will sign the same and that's OK. Which is great because I am always afraid I am doing it wrong.
Tomorrow is my official signing start day. After doing some reading and listening to some words of wisdom of the matter, it seems that it will be best for us to start with just a few signs that we can repeat over and over and slowly expand our vocabulary. So Chad and I will be consistently focusing on signing things that are not only relevant to Eliana's daily life but things that are repeated throughout her day many times. The words I want to start with are milk, more, all done, Mommy, Daddy and star. "Star" may seem like the odd word out on a list that includes many basic daily experiences, but she is surrounded by the heavenly, five pointed shapes in her nursery everyday, and they have quickly become her favorite thing to look at. She also LOVES hearing me sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" even calming from mid scream to giggles when I sing it, so I plan to begin signing it as I sing every time from now on.
I am so excited to get started! I know most babies don't sign on their own until about 7 months or later, but my niece did her first sign at 4 months and even if Eliana waits until 10 months or a year to talk with her hands, I still feel like this will be providing our family with a valuable communication tool. I adore having "cooing" conversations with my baby already where she coos, babbles and squeals in response to my voice and now I am looking forward to talking to her even more in a new, fun way!