Baby signs and breastfeeding

I read a very interesting blog post on today.  A mother was describing how communicating with her children through baby signs enriched their breastfeeding relationship, click here to read the article.  She was able to discover the different reasons her child wanted to breastfeed.  Having insight into how her child viewed breastfeeding, the mother was able to adapt to her child’s needs.

I was introduced to the idea of baby signs when I worked in a daycare center.  One of our infants had a very large “vocabulary” of signs.  It was quite amazing (once his teachers learned the signs!) how easy it was to communicate with a child that wasn’t speaking yet.  This boy was able to tell us exactly what he wanted.  He even created his own signs.  He would point to his shoes, which had school buses on them and we would know he was requesting a sing-along of “wheels on the bus”!

from the book Baby Signs®

I became very curious about how the signing relationship worked and had many talks with his mother.  She explained that she integrated signs with her words.  Every time she would say “milk” or “all done” for example, she would simultaneously do the sign for that word.  Her son began signing back to her when he was around eight months old.  I would guess this little guy knew at least fifty different signs.  His mother advocated how much easier it was to deal with any fussiness because she could narrow down exactly what it was her son wanted or needed.

A concern among some of the staff at the daycare was that this boy may be delaying his speech development.  He was over one year old and seemed to rely on his signs instead of learning to say the words.  His mother was not concerned and when he moved into the toddler room just before he was eighteen months old, he was nearly speaking full sentences!  As far as I can find, there is no research to say that signing impedes speech.

Here are some of the benefits of signing according to

  • Bonding.  Baby Sign Language gives you an sneak peak into the head of your baby. It allows your baby to show you some of the things she is thinking and let you share some of your thoughts with her.
  • Reduced Fussiness.  When your baby can’t communicate, he gets frustrated and has little fussy spells. This can leave you frustrated because you want to help but don’t know what to do. When your baby can tell you when they are hungry, thirsty, need a diaper change, or are hurt you can help. Even when there is nothing you can do – like if your baby’s leg hurts – it seems to soothe their pain if they can just share it with you.
  • Development.  Baby sign language is a good structured activity to help babies develop mentally.  Studies shows that babies who have early exposure to signing, have larger speaking vocabularies earlier.

Did you communicate with your child through sign language?  Did it impact your breastfeeding relationship?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *