During my pregnancy with my first daughter I started to panic … well for many reasons… but one of my fears were that I would not be able to understand her… know what she wants or what she’d be crying for. I was always told, that I as a mother would know… how sure are they!! By no means did I trust the motherly instincts that I was supposed to have once I saw my baby.
This fear doubled when I saw a daughter of a friend of mine for some unknown reason lying on the floor in the middle of the mall corridor and screaming at the top of her lungs squirming about on the floor, stomping her tiny feet and kicking her legs as if the world has crumbled on top of her. I looked at her and asked, “why is she doing this?” She Very calmly replied, “I don’t know, but it will pass, just don’t look at her”. I thought to myself, defiantly there is something wrong, she probably wants something and cannot express it, she’s locked inside her tiny body with feelings or needs she is unable to communicate.
I didn’t want to be that mother… the frustrated mother, full of embarrassment and anger and torment that I cannot figure out why a little person is in need. I didn’t want to ever be judged that I wasn’t able to calm my child down.
I have heard of baby sign language years before, did my research and thought to myself this is probably the way to go about it … and so I did. Starting four months I was religiously signing the three basic signs: Milk, Change and Sleep. At 5 months, when I introduced solids, I introduced Eat. I did not pay attention to what people around me thought. I heard opinions and judgments, starting from, she will not learn how to talk, to … are you crazy.. is this some internet fashion.. my in-laws gave me the look every time and refused to help join with that.. my mother did it only because I threatened to not let her see her. My husband above all … would try to explain what I’m doing and how we’re communicating to others as if I were a lunatic. People would ask me, is she deaf!!
At 6 months.. my mother was sitting with her and then with an excited scream she called me from across the house.. … she’s signing.. she’s signing. You were right. I knew I was right!!
My daughter started signing at 6 and half months, talking by 8 months… by one year she was already signing all the animal sounds, colors, objects, fruits and vegetables… and most importantly she was signing her emotions! Whatever she couldn’t pronounce, she would explain with her tiny little hands… By 18 months, she was talking three languages plus the sign language.
Not one tantrum of frustration … not one burst of anger… nor stomping on the floor. She was calm and her brain started to collect other information early as well!
The basics of this was, she learnt the concept of communication early, she learnt that she could be understood when trying to say something, she learnt to express herself, not just as recipient nor a receiver!! As a transmitter… A contributor!!
In that extra time we had before most kids were still learning to talk, she was learning to tell stories and make puzzles and the most beautiful experience ever was when I saw that she knew how to communicate with other toddlers, she was like a translator from little people to adults …
I had my second when she was 2 … and by then expressing in our household was not a problem.
My angles are five and three now…
I urge every new mother to teach her babies sign language and yes babies are not too young to be taught and toddlers are not too old to be taught. You can start at any age if your baby be it or toddler. There are loads of literature out there and many phone applications.
Check out: https://www.babysignlanguage.com
Applications: Baby Sign and Learn, My smart Hands, Baby Sign Language, Baby Sign (ASL)