Baby sign language. Our experience…

‘Time to sing and time to sign, are we ready for music time?’… Arrrggghhhh the music drives me crazy! My mum says she will wake in the middle of the night with the songs playing in her head! We have the sing and sign cd in our car and as soon as the first note starts, the car seat tantrums stop. I don’t know what they did to find out the secret to catching babies and toddlers attention, I tell you… Sing and sign, you are on to a winner.

Before my daughter Ava was born I knew that I wanted to try sign language with her when she was ready, I had heard so many positive stories of how babies and children responded to sign language that I was instantly intrigued. How could a baby learn to communicate with you even before they could talk?!

Ava as a newborn was extremely hard work. Unfortunately she cried A LOT and what I always found most frustrating was not knowing what was wrong?! What could or would make her feel better?? Not being able to communicate her basic needs was frustrating for both of us. Never having really been around a newborn baby before I felt out of my depth and completely confused on what to do to stop her from crying. Gradually we found our way and just learnt from hands on experience.

When Ava was around 11 months old we started sing and sign classes in a church hall in Hove. I was very sceptical at first. Singing all these stupid songs and trying to keep up with the signs that we were being taught, it just felt really silly. But I had booked a course for a whole term so I might as well try my hardest and give it a go. Each week we would learn more signs, starting with the basics for a baby like ‘eat’, ‘drink’ and ‘more’. Once being taught the signs in class you are then supposed to try and integrate them into your daily life with your child. Well the most used in our household was ‘milk’… I have never been one for routine and Ava has always fed on demand so every time she cried her ‘boob cry’ I would make the hand sign for milk and give her what she wanted. A few weeks went passed with not a lot happening. Then low and behold one day there was no cry, just a hand opening and closing which represented the milk sign. I thought it must be a fluke! How could we be communicating after all these months of frustration?! This first sign then spurred me on to learn more. We bought the dreaded cd for our car. I unfortunately learnt every word to every song and signing became part of our life. Not long after ‘milk’ came ‘eat’, ‘more’ and ‘drink’. Every time we pulled in to the driveway she would put her hands together and sign ‘home’. I was amazed and completely addicted. Our journey together became so much easier having ways to communicate. We have just finished our second term of the classes and booked on for a final third.

I would recommend ‘sing and sign’ classes to EVERY mother and child. The classes get them socialising whilst you are both learning something and as long as you take what you learn home with you and integrate the signs into your lives, it works! Massive round of applause to the creators of sing and sign, you saved a lot of tears in this household…


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