Piran and I used to go to Sing and Sign classes every week. He loved it, it was the only thing that used to get him so excited. I tried to keep up the signs at home and for a while he did use a couple of signs. It was lovely. Sadly, when I returned to work four months ago we had to stop going to classes and then I stopped using the signs and now we don’t do it at all. Which is sad because I think that at this age this is the time we would be seeing the benefits. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself ‘I wish you could tell me what is wrong / what you want’.
The following guest post is by Misty Weaver, Chief Editor of Baby Sign Language. I found it really interesting and I am trying to take her advice and get back into using the easy everyday signs. I hope that it works.
Baby Sign Language – What if You’ve Taken a (Really Long) Break?
Momhood is so darn overwhelming. Yet, we manage to get smarter. We get wiser. We learn more. Our priorities change. I followed my first child around with disinfectant wipes. Sometimes I forget to bathe my second child.
And with my first child, I was a baby sign language guru. I had Baby Sign Language Flash Cards hung all over my house. I had recruited the neighbors, the babysitters, the grandparents – heck, I practically had the dog signing. Then my second child came along. I started out ambitious, but my enthusiasm quickly waned under the weight of dirty diapers and empty tubes of lanolin.
Part of it was his fault. Yes, I will blame my failure on an infant. Whereas my daughter thought signing was great fun, my son just looked at me like I was from outer space. Yet, I didn’t consciously give up. I just gradually forgot to sign.
But if the story ended here, it wouldn’t be a very good story, now would it?
The bad news is, by the time my son was about 8 months old, I had stopped signing altogether.
The good news is, when he was about a year old, I started again, for no particular reason, except that maybe I was no longer distracted by all the lanolin. And guess what? My son learned to sign. He picked it up quickly, loved it, and hasn’t yet scolded me for taking all that time off.
Of course, ideally, you want to sign with your baby from the time that they are about six months old until they are about three years old. Ideally. But the ideal doesn’t always happen, does it?
So, if you are like me and you have fallen off the baby sign language wagon (or even if you haven’t gotten on it yet), it is never too late to climb aboard. It is so much fun to sign with toddlers because they are fast and enthusiastic learners and because they need signing so much. They will definitely want to be able to tell you when they are hungry, thirsty, tired, or hurt.
So just pick up where you left off. Start with some of the signs that you have already done. Your baby may or may not remember them, but it doesn’t really matter. Just start incorporating them into your everyday speech. When you ask, “Are you hungry?” make the sign for hungry. When you ask, “Are you tired?” make the sign for tired.
You don’t have to go hog-wild. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take it one sign at a time. Infant Sign Language is not an exact science, and there will be no standardized test at the end.
Above all, Baby Sign Language is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be a way for us overwhelmed moms to bond with our babies. I think I forgot that part for a while, in all the mayhem, but I’m grateful that I started signing again, and I think my son is grateful too, though he still looks at me like I’m from outer space. Maybe I am – who really knows?