when babies make up their own signs
Can babies make up their own signs?
Little Signers Club Founder, Shelley, explores how babies learn to use signs autonomously.
Today my baby and I took our daily walk.
There is nothing unusual in this, but today is definitely not an ordinary day.
Today, my 14 month old baby made up his own sign for ‘Dandelion Clock’.
He has been fascinated with the dandelion clocks since they started appearing a few days ago.
Add in his two big sisters blowing the seeds high into the sky over the weekend, watching them floating loose in the wind, and this fascination went to a whole new level. The excitement when he was given one for himself was tangible – and a memory I shall carry for a long time.
But today, my baby signed for himself; a new sign, that he figured out for himself. Holding his hand in front of him as if grasping the stem of the dandelion clock, he then blew, repeatedly and said ‘more?’ afterwards.
There was no mistaking what it was that he wanted and that he had found a way to let me know too.
But today, my baby signed for himself; a new sign, a sign that he figured out for himself…
This shows me that my baby knows, without question, that he can communicate with me even if I have not shown him a sign already (and no, I have absolutely no idea what the correct sign for dandelion clock is but we will be using this one now!)
His use of gesture and sound, together, make me very aware of what is on his mind, even though he does not yet have the ability to say ‘dandelion’ and probably won’t for some time to come.
When we are able to see the world through our baby’s eyes, there is wonder and awe and adventure with every single discovery.
In our interaction today, not only did baby J make up his own sign, but we had a whole dialogue going on between us which strengthens bonding, his communication development and a sense of adventure too!
Signs and words that frequently came up on our walk were ‘where’, ‘look’, ‘bird’, ‘snail’, ‘flowers’, ‘tree’, ‘over here’, ‘careful’, ‘danger’, ‘ow!’ (nettles) – so you can see quite quickly how easily it is for new signs and expressive language to be acquired.
Today also gave me an incredible insight into my baby’s world, which is an experience unique to us and not one that I would have missed for the world.
Being able to share their preferences and likes makes such a huge difference to our small folk and, really being able to connect with that, brings such closeness and joy.
Baby signing can help your little one to make sense of a busy world – wired, as they are, for communication, observation and taking every single thing in.
When we take the time to align with their interests, when we see the world through their eyes, there is wonder and awe and adventure with every single discovery.
It is enchanting and I, for one, am so glad I didn’t have to wait until my little ones could talk so that I could experience this utterly incredible window of insight into their world.
first published 20th May 2013 on littlesignersclub.wordpress.com
Shelley - Little Signers Club
Founder | Speaker | Author | Chief Bubble Tester | Mama of 3
Shelley is the founder of Little Signers Club and has been teaching little ones, and their grown ups, how to use sign language for accelerated communication and understanding since 2005.
Kindly regarded as an expert in her field, Shelley regularly contributes to Childcare Expo, has been featured on BBC1, BBC Radio, in Junior Magazine, Gurgle Magazine, and was a contributing author for ToddlerCalm; A Guide to Calmer Toddlers.
She has three children of her own and, when she is not sharing her love of baby signing with the world, can be regularly found toasting marshmallows over a campfire.