Today is Pixie's 1st Birthday. It was heralded in by a crying/coughing session at 3:15 am and another bout at 6am. As soon as I go to her in the mornings, she immediately starts doing sign language for "more." She has decided that "more" really means "want" and uses it liberally throughout the day. I'm posting a picture of her doing it at breakfast this morning after I took her piece of toast away. It's not quite the exact ASL sign, but she made up her own version and we figured it out.
I started signing to her when she was about 5.5 months old. I could tell she was able to start understanding the signs at about 7 months, but it wasn't until she was 9 months of so until she began signing back. She understands about 20-30 signs but only signs back the ones she has found really useful like milk, more, up, all done, hat, kiss, hurt, bye/hi and music. I didn't read any books or anything about how to teach babies signs, so that's probably why she's not progressing as quickly as I would have liked but for now, it's pretty fun. They say that at first babies just try and use any sign for any request so sometimes she does some pretty funny things. If I ask her if she's all done eating she'll say "all done" "more" "all done" "more" over and over so it's kind of hard to interpret sometimes.
But for a one year old, she's on the ball. If I sign "kiss" "baby," she'll go find her baby doll and give it some loving. Or if I sign "give me your paci" she'll pull it out of her mouth and hand it to me. Or "horse" "hat" she'll put one of her hats on her rocking horse." Pretty fun. I met a woman the other day while getting my oil changed who had a son with a hearing aid. I asked her if he signed and she said that they had begun teaching him ASL at 8 months before they knew he was deaf and it wasn't until much later that they realized that he could only communicate by ASL after all. But even if your child doesn't have hearing problems, they can
communicate with their hands long before they can make all the sounds with their mouths and this helps parents understand just how much their kids can really understand before they even are one.
Obviously I would recommend teaching your baby signs to anyone who is interested in communicating with their infants. Let me know if you want more details. It's really easy. I didn't know the first thing about sign language a year ago but now it is something I really enjoy. Just check out this website, find the words that you use everyday, and start making the sign every time you say the word to your baby. You'll be amazed at how quickly they understand. Also, it helps if you form your baby's hands to make the sign as well. Anyways, there's my plug for ASL. Happy Birthday Pixie (she's already getting embarrassed about no clothes?)!