Baby Signs of the Times

There was once a time, not too long ago, when us moms were told, "Don't pick up the baby too much, you'll spoil her!" Babies were believed to be living blobs that needed to eat, have their diaper changed, kept warm, and not much else. Since those "dark ages" of baby care we have learned a lot about infant development. Not only are moms nowadays encouraged to hold, cuddle, talk to and even "wear" their babies, they are taking infant and baby care and parenting to an even higher level of sophistication.

A New and Exciting Trend

One of the hottest and most talked about trends today is teaching sign language to pre-verbal babies as young as 6-8 months old. Every mother knows that long before their baby is talking, he/she is communicating in various non-verbal ways. However, crying, pointing, smiling and other non-specific messages from the baby could often be misunderstood, hard to decipher or even missed altogether.

When a baby knows a specific hand motion for a specific desire, thought or feeling, communication is enhanced, frustration is alleviated and better bonding between parents and child is established.

My own personal experience with baby sign language confirms the value and beauty of such a simple way to improve the overall experience of raising your baby. My own daughter, who is 23 years old now and has a daughter of her own, chose to teach my granddaughter the sign for "more" when she was about 8 months old.

"She signaled that she wanted more": It works!

At first I was sceptical; how can such a young child express herself in such a specific way? And even if she could, what difference would it make? But when Aliza put her two hands together with her tiny fingers touching each other in the exact way her mother had taught her to signal that she wanted "more", I immediately responded in an excited, happy way, and gave her some more. Of course Aliza was immediately satisfied for several reasons. Not only did she get more of what she wanted, but she had a successful and positive communication experience which reinforced her desire to communicate again. There is no question that this experience enhanced our relationship.

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