Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby Sign vs. Actual Words

Phoenix is 16 1/2 months old now and says close to 40 words and phrases.

I attribute this to the fact that we talk a lot to him. And he may be an only child, but he is constantly with my family. At least twice a week. Hearing all 12 of us talk surely helps him heaps!

Recently he has developed an extreme love for books (His favorites are Once Upon a Potty & I Love You Through And Through<--- this book taught him where his nose, toes, and hair were) and this really helps (as we all know) build our little ones vocab.

I actually keep a list on the right side bar. I try an update it as frequently as he picks up a new word but I often forget. I try to keep this list because I am super bad about writing in his baby book. Yet another thing I should add to my list.

You've probably heard me say before that I've been around kids all my life so I picked up a lot of baby and kid tips. One thing I remember hearing about that I thought I would do was baby sign. 

I've tried a couple times to teach sign to Phoenix because of heard from other moms and mommy blogs that baby sign is an excellent tool to use.

Last week I tried putting in a signing video for Phoenix to watch and we got through Eat, Milk, and More before he jumped off the couch (but not before actually saying the words) 

So I thought. "Maybe this isn't for us"

But I can't seem to feel bombarded with signs to try baby sign.

In fact just in today's email I get a Baby Center Bulletin about toddlers using baby sign AND has Baby Signing videos today.

The only sign Phoenix has picked up has been"All done" he does this more of a joke then actually letting us know he's "all done"

So my question is how many of you moms use(d) baby sign and is it worth it? And should I try and teach it now or just continue with words?

We communicate great I think for a mom and a 16 month old but this can always be approved upon. My concern is possibly hindering or slowing down his speech by introducing something new.

It also would be helpful if you could recommend the best videos to teach baby sign


  1. I've never used baby sign language. However, I couldn't resist telling you how awesome your little guy is! 40 words is impressive..good job mom! My baby is the same age and she says about 1/2 that. lol. She is #4. My first was more like your son. Isn't it great to hear their little words?! I love to hear baby's talk.

    Oh..I did know someone who taught their baby a few signs. She found it helpful. That's all I know...sorry for not saying anything of value. lol.

  2. Here's my thought: Signing with your baby is one of the most rewarding things you can do... but if you and your son are communicating fine, and it's not really something you're going to have fun with, then I say skip it.

    I am a big advocate of baby signing. I worked as a nanny for 10 years, as a developmental therapist for 2, and now have been a mommy for 15 months... and in all of those situations, signing was a very valuable tool. I have noticed a BIG difference in the babies who have been exposed to sign... fewer tantrums, difference in spatial awareness, larger vocabularies--all the things that you can read about in all the emails, advertisements, etc. for baby signing. With my own son, signing has been something that is not only fun and rewarding, but it has allowed him to communicate he otherwise couldn't. He has quite the extensive spoken vocabulary (including "dirty rotten rat," thank you Grandma) for his age, and he knows even more signs. He can tell me when he's hurt, wants to play, needs a diaper change, wants to nurse, wants cheese, etc... all of which are not in his spoken vocabulary.

    But the key for us is that it is a) something that we both enjoy and b) something that I am willing to work on every day.

    I have heard a lot of people advocate the baby signing videos, and it makes me cringe a little. First of all, alot of the videos are not ASL based (which IMHO is the best route to go.) Second... too many parents think that since they have the video, all they need to do is let their wee one watch it and they'll pick up everything they need. In order for it to be useful, it has to be something you actually USE on a daily basis. In other words, *you* need to sign with him. When you say more, all done, play, potty, etc, you need to be using the signs too, or he will never pick up that signing is a way of communicating. It will just be fun hand gestures. Maybe use the videos as a learning tool for you, or as a fun way to reinforce the signs, but I wouldn't rely on it too heavily. (And I just happen to be personally against TV for the little ones, so I think the videos can be skipped altogether.)

    If you decide that it is something you want to do (and as I've said before, it can be fun and beneficial), I would recommend getting one of the many fun baby sign books and reading to him (especially since he already loves books). I found a ton at barnes and noble. You can also go to video dictionaries like (they have a whole baby signing section too) and find whatever signs it is that you want to incorporate into your day.

    As for your concerns with slowing down his speech, I have never seen that to be the case. I have read a lot about signing and language development (did I mention that it's one of the fields I studied?) and everything points to an INCREASE in spoken vocabulary.

    If in the end you decide it isn't right for you and your family, I wouldn't stress out about it. You guys are obviously doing well. :)

    (If you have more questions, or if I was too rambly in this incredibly long comment, feel free to email me!

  3. Thanks for the helpful tips! After reading your responses I'm leaning towards teaching him a few signs. And I like the idea of the signing books BETTER then the videos because like I said he loves books and already picks up so much from the CONSTANT reading.
    Thanks for the feedback! I SUPER appreciate it.

  4. We didn't use Baby Signs, but did a few signs when my kids were younger they picked up on them fast. We actually got out of it once they started talking, but have recently picked it up again. They are 3 & 4 years old and watching sign language videos are some of their favorite "movies." They like Signing Times which is supposed to have been picked up by Nick Jr. but I haven't seen it scheduled yet, maybe after Christmas.

    Keep up the sign language it really is fun when they get older and I think it helps with any communication frustrations they may have.


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