I was always one of those parents who scoffed when I heard of other parents who were teaching their babies to sign. Then my second child was born with Down Syndrome, and our pediatrician suggested that we teach him how to sign before his first birthday since children with Down Syndrome are usually speech delayed. He told me that learning sign language could cut down on many of the tantrums that children throw simply because they are not able to communicate what they want or need. I spent the first few weeks after his birth researching different baby signing programs to try out on my 19-month-old. The one I went with was the My Baby Can Talk series. I must say that it is some of the best money that I have ever spent on a children’s DVD.
My oldest usually ignores the TV when it is on. I’ve tried everything from Sesame Street to Veggie Tales. As soon as I put on our new My Baby Can Talk DVD he was hooked. Both DVDs use live pictures and toys to show the sign being taught. The sign is demonstrated first by an adult, so the parents can learn it, and then by a child so that the parents can see how their child might do the sign. There is lively classical music in the background and the DVD progresses at a good pace for a toddler. All signs taught are the American Sign Language signs, so, if they continue to use them after spoken language is acquired, they will be able to communicate a little bit with the hearing impaired.
The first DVD in the series is the My Baby Can Talk – First Signs DVD. It is for ages 10 months to 36 months, and it will teach your baby such signs as milk, drink, go, cow, more, shoes, etc… There are 20 signs that are learned on the First Signs DVD. It also comes with a Signing Reference card and a parent tutorial that will help the parent teach their child how to sign.
The second DVD is called My Baby Can Talk – Sharing Signs. This DVD teaches 28 signs including diaper, daddy, mommy, help, share, please, and thank you. It also comes with the handy Signing Reference card and parent tutorial.
After jumping on the baby sign language wagon, I was surprised to find out that children who used sign language as babies scored higher on IQ tests than children who did not use baby sign language. I was also pleasantly surprised when my 19 month old used the sign for “milk” after only a few viewings of the DVD. That was a word that he could not verbalize yet, and he would get very frustrated when he wanted milk, but did not know how to communicate that to me in any other way but fussing.
The videos suggest that you view them at least 4 times a week with your child until they understand the sings. It is important to watch the videos with your child so that you know the signs as well and can use them with the child. One of the main points in using baby sign language is to eliminate some of the frustration associated with a child not being able to verbalize what he or she wants or needs. It would still be frustrating to the child if they learned the sings for what they wanted and needed, but the parent still did not know what they were “saying.” I would highly recommend the My Baby Can Talk series to anyone wanting to teach their child how to sign. I am excited to see how far my now 20-month-old will go and even more excited to see how his little brother will be able to use the signs when he is old enough.