While I was pregnant with Aaliyah, I read different pregnancy and parenting books. I wanted to be as educated as possible about what was going on with my body and my baby. I was flying blind. I had never done anything like this and I knew absolutely nothing. As I read through all those books, I began to formulate a plan for becoming a mom and raising a child. Things like breastfeeding, dual language learning, homemade baby food, co-sleeping, etc. This plan I had formulated was filled with my ideals for being a parent. I had no idea how well my plans would workout or if they would fit into our lifestyle, but I wanted to try.
One of the things I really wanted to incorporate into our parenting strategy was baby sign language. I took a few sign language classes while I was in school. I wanted to learn a third language that could be useful, and it seemed like the most useful. I was incredibly pleased when I learned that it could be used to communicate with my daughter. It takes me so long to determine her new cues and sounds, and she comes up with new ones every week. So it becomes difficult to keep up at times.
There are several benefits to using baby sign. Infants rely on crying, smiling, and cooing to communicate before they are able to speak. They use nonverbal communication and cues to express themselves, because they do not possess the skills to speak. Baby sign language is an excellent method for communicating, because it is based on these same nonverbal cues and gestures. It is a great way to connect with your baby and initiate a strong bond.
There are also more long term benefits to using sign language. It helps increase children’s vocabulary. They are able to retain more words and spell more proficiently because they can physically spell out the words with their hands. Sign language also encourages children to communicate. They are able to use both verbal and nonverbal methods and it allows them to be more expressive.
Aaliyah has just reached nine months and it is the optimal time to begin using sign language. I am excited to begin this new chapter. I really do hope that it will be a successful endeavor. We’re going to start with just a handful of signs (about five). The ones that we would use most often in our daily routine – mom, dad, milk, more, all done. I am a little excited to see if it takes. I would love to be able to communicate with her, no matter how little until she is able to speak. We all know how frustrating it can be as parents at times, trying to decipher the meaning of a baby’s grunts and gestures. So for the few months, I will be using these signs while I speak to Aaliyah, and we will see if she picks them up. I’ll keep you posted on the success of this latest endeavor.