Have you considered doing sign language with your baby? There are many benefits, but it's not for everyone. Children are able to communicate and know what they want or need (at times) before they are able to "talk." It takes a lot to talk. You have to coordinate your breathing, when to voice and not, all of your articulators (tongue, mouth, nasal cavity, jaw, tongue), and transition from one sound to the next. However, signing is a way to allow your child to communicate before he/she can talk. It can also start to build his/her vocabulary earlier in life. It has also been shown that when a child can communicate at a younger age, it reduces his/her frustration level and fussing.
There are books and classes out there to learn a few signs that babies would need to know. Since I'm fluent in sign language, I have not checked them out. However, there are also a few apps on your phone! There are many out there that are free. One that I found is called "Smart Hands Lite." The full version has 300 words. The 'lite" (free) version has 33. However, it has the ones that are most needed. It also has a video of the person doing the sign along with a short explanation on how to remember the sign! It will list the sign alphabetically or by category and it has a quiz. That one is my favorite by far. One that I found and DO NOT recommend is called "Baby Sign". It gives you very few signs and not very functional ones. It also wants you to buy the rest.
For those of you who don't have a smart phone, there are other ways to learn signs for FREE:
- Free online video dictionary: http://www.aslpro.com/cgi-bin/aslpro/aslpro.cgi
- Check out a book from the library
- A website with some tips: http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/index.html
Now this is where I will get on my soap box. DO NOT TEACH YOUR CHILD 'MORE'. Huh? That's the sign that everyone teaches their child first! Ok ok. You can teach them more, but make sure to pair it with another word. Let's say that your child was playing ball with you. You had little Mikey signing "more" to get the ball again. Then it was snack time and so you gave him some fish crackers. Again, you worked on "more" to get more fish crackers. Now it's after nap. Mikey wakes up and signs "more." What does he want more of? You have no idea! However, he has been taught that "more" means he gets what he wants. Instead, pair "more" with the thing you are doing. "more ball" = play with the ball; "more food" = more snack; "more drink" = more to drink, "more music" = wants to listen to music. Now, unless your child deaf/hard of hearing and you have chosen manual communication (sign language), you probably aren't going to teach your child every sign. Therefore, you don't have to teach him/her every food sign, "food" will do. It's something to think about.