Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Baby talk: communicating through sign language

We know that the stimulation is good for brain development in babies and children. Parents have always developed visual ways to communicate with their children before verbal communication has been possible. There is a growing group of parents who are communicating with babies from a very young age using modified sign language for the deaf. Here is a TVNZ Breakfast show interview on this topic.
Sarah Turner, who runs baby talk workshop is interviewed by the breakfast show team and describes simple signs to communicate with babies and toddlers. Using this type of communication children can tell parents they are hungry or thirsty, want their diaper changed or are hurting somewhere. I can imagine that this could lessen the frustration pre-language children might experience when they cannot communicate their needs.
What do you think about this?

Image: Baby talk, from Iandeth's photos on


Hannah said...

I havent watched the breakfast show but I think this is great. Ive been trying it with my daughter (we do elimination communication part time) and we have a sign she is supposed to do when she needs to go potty.. It (both the elimination communication and the signing) is not going too well, we have lots of 'accidents' :)

mammal said...

mothers found ways to communicate with their children for ages. i donT think that spending loads of cash to learn this baby sign language is very useful.
i'd rather spend it on something nice to eat or a professional massage, so i feel good and can take good care of my baby.

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the comments.
I tend to agree that this is something mothers have always done with babies. Perhaps this is a part of mothering and parenthood that some women need to be taught now there are fewer opportunities to learn from role models in the wider extended family. A lot of it is to do with trusting your instincts I think and many of us are not too good with that I feel.

I do find the range of communication which seems to be acheived through signing to be quite remarkable and I do remember some fairly difficult times, with my own toddler years ago, who wanted to express himself but just could not communicate what it was he wanted. I wonder if signing would help? I don't know.

I am interested in the elimination training Hannah and would love you to keep me informed of how this goes for you.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think its a load of rubbish. If I taught my son sign language, he would have been sticking his 'v's up at me all the time! :)

Carolyn said...

Honest as always, straight to the point Sarah :)

brittanielovessparky said...

I love sign language! right now i'm learning how to sign with my baby on MindBites.

The author's name is Laura Berg and she teaches baby sign language classes (you can sign up online, google search: Mysmarthands) as well as how to make your own baby sign language flash cards. I'm loving her baby sign language video on dictionary terms and I hope she comes out with a DVD soon!

Charndra at Part Time EC said...

Hi Carolyn,
You can discover more about Elimination Communication at Part Time I practice it with my babies and it is fun. It is particularly helpful with the itty bitty babies when they have gas. I helped my baby (now 8 months) many times (still do!) when he was a newborn by holding him in the elimination position (back against your chest and holding them below their knees), which facilitates getting out the painful gas. So much so thet I like to refer to EC as "Elimination Comfort" for little babies!

I'd be happy to do a post for your blog if you like. I had my babies in birth centres with only midwives. My midwife this time had never heard of EC, she was quite amazed at seeing and hearing all about it from me.


Sara said...

I love your comments regarding signing with young children. Every parent should sign with their baby! Remember to sign the word as you say it and to use keys American Sign Language signs to narrate your child’s world! Keep on sharing! Sara Bingham, author of The Baby Signing Book

Teej Mandis said...

We absolutely have loved using baby sign language. We tell any and everyone all we can about it - when they ask. :-)

And I agree about paying some of the exhorbatant prices on some of these products.

There is a very good page at that gives you free signs to use with your baby. We have used this website for 3 years now (as well as some books from the library) and have learned a lot with both our now 3 year old and 14 month old. Also great is the Signing Time Series.

Our children have loved these series. Some prefer to use the DVDs, but we are not big on tv so we have used the books and the sites that explain with easy to use photos and or videos.

Youtube also has some great videos of the cutest little babies and kids signing.

Very encouraging to see all of the babies looking so much happier and the parents, too. Happy signing to all!

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