Being sick when you’re a parent is terrible. Your little one is a ball of energy and all you want to do is burrow into your blankets and binge-watch Netflix all day. I can now say from experience (thank you laryngitis) that not being able to talk to your child may be even worse. I spent all day yesterday unable to speak at all without being in serious pain. So I had to figure out other ways to communicate with Sweet Girl.
Thankfully we’ve been using some basic sign language with her since she was about 4 months old so we are able to communicate her basic needs, like please, eat, and all done. We are also working on sorry and thank you. This doesn’t seem like a lot but for a toddler who is either running around or eating it’s all we need.
Like I’ve said in previous posts I believe children from birth have the ability to communicate their needs with us. At first it’s crying, then pointing and making specific noises, then speaking. I, for one, didn’t want to spend the first however many months of Sweet Girl’s life trying to figure out what she was pointing and grunting about. We did that for a couple months and it was awful. We would spend 10 minutes trying to figure it out, all the while she would get more and more agitated.
I think for a lot of parents using sign language can seem really intimidating. It’s hard to imagine that your infant will be able to understand what your hand movement means or even that they will be able to do the sign themselves. I will tell you, though, to think about all the deaf children out there. They figured it out, and I’m sure it was a learning curve just as it is with children who can hear.
Just like with everything else, new parents (or experienced parents with a newborn) should start small. Choose one or two signs that you want your baby to learn at a time. Think about what they do all day. Maybe your two signs will be sleep and eat. For quite a few months that’s all they seem to do anyway. And the signs for those are so simple. On the left is the sign for eat. On the right are two different signs that could be used for sleep.
One of the signs we wanted to be able to use was all done. For quite a while when she was finished eating she would shove away the utensil we were using or the food we were offering. Continuously getting stiff-armed at the end of meals was getting really old. So we started using the sign for “all done” and now we use it all the time, and not just at meals.
Here are some other signs that you might find useful at your house.
Being able to use sign language has made things so much easier at our house. And we spend a lot less time listening to a fussy baby because she can’t get us to understand what she needs. We still get some pointing but for the most part she is able to let us know what she needs through basic sign language.
Have you used sign language with your baby(ies)? Have you found it to be much easier than you initially thought?