Teaching My Baby To Read

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Baby Signs, do they work?

Yes! Yes! Yes!!! Baby Signs Work!!!!

I credit my cousin Elizabeth for introducing me to Baby Signs, because it was through her children that I first saw how amazing Baby Signs were in action.

Even before I ever became pregnant, I knew that I was going to give Baby Signs my best try. My husband and I both read the book before Bruce was born, and started introducing signs to him at nine months. We did this with Jenna too, and credit Baby Signs for giving both of our children an early jump on language and communicating.

Here are the words and signs my daughter Jenna knew at 15 months:

Baby Signs:

  1. bath
  2. eat
  3. drink
  4. milk
  5. backpack
  6. pacifier
  7. book
  8. dog
  9. duck
  10. cat
  11. pig
  12. bunny
  13. horse
  14. mouse
  15. Roomba
  16. ball
  17. baby
  18. toothbrush
  19. apple
  20. bird
  21. Grandma
  22. hug
  23. up
  24. kisses
  25. music
  26. potty
  27. ice-cream
  28. telephone
  29. frog

Words:

  1. Mom
  2. Dad
  3. Bruce
  4. boat
  5. bow
  6. duck
  7. doggie
  8. Roomba
  9. pacifier
  10. yes
  11. book
  12. ball
  13. bird
  14. bread
  15. Papa
  16. up
  17. water
  18. more
  19. that

And now for some embarrassing true stories….

When Bruce was about one year old we were at a Stanford wrestling match watching from the stands. An unknown lady (who was very well-endowed) asked to hold Bruce because he was so cute. I was a tired first-time mom, so I said “Sure,” and handed him over. Bruce took one look at the lady’s chest, and started signing “drink”, which is thumbs-up, to the mouth!

“Oh, how cute!” the lady said. “He’s giving me thumbs-up. This baby must really like me!” Um…yeah…well. 🙂

The next embarrassing story has to do with washing machines. Washing machines were one of Bruce’s favorite things when he was a baby, and my husband and I both spent lots of time lifting Bruce up to play with the dials. Bruce’s self-invented sign for “washing machine” was to pin his arms to his side, hold out his hands, and spin them like he was turning the dials on the dryer. Go ahead and try this sign in the privacy of your home. Notice anything lewd about it?

Bruce was so obsessed with washing machines that every house we visited he would run up to the hostess and “ask” to see the washing machine, by engaging in his own little sign. I was always mortified at playgroups!

By now of course, both my kids are older, excellent speakers and have forgotten all of the signs they ever knew. This doesn’t stop my husband from breaking out the signs every once in a while, like when we are at a really awkward family reunion and one of us needs a drink…

If you are interested in giving Baby Signs a try with your own infant, I would suggest checking out the parent’s guide from the library, and purchasing a few board books to read to your child at home. That’s one of the easiest ways to learn the signs yourself, while at the same time teaching them to your baby. Here are the books we used:

Language Development at 15 months

On the very last day of 2011 I accomplished (rather belatedly) my 2011 New Year’s resolution, which was to complete Jenna(2.5)’s baby album.  As her mother, I take my role as fiduciary of her baby memories quite seriously, although that would be difficult to tell if you had seen my scrapbooking supplies piled on top of my armoire for an entire year! 

While going through all of the little bits of memories and notes that I had written to myself to help with this task, I came across the following list of words and signs that Jenna knew at 15 months.  I decided to share this list for several reasons.  As a parent, there is always the temptation to compare your child’s development to other kids you know.  Socially, it’s really bad manners to start asking probing questions about what other kids can accomplish, but that certainly doesn’t squelch curiosity.  So here’s a reference point for you in case you too are curious about these matters.  

The other interesting thing about this list is that it shows how many words parents of young children “count” that really aren’t fully formed words at all. I guess I was really relying on context cues to know what “ba” meant! 

You can also see the clear relationship between teaching Jenna Baby Signs, and having those signs directly lead into spoken words.  My husband and I both think that Baby Signs was one of the best things we did to help promote early language with our children.  We didn’t pay for a class or anything, we just read the book.  You can probably check it out from the library. 

Now at 2 and a half, Jenna is highly verbal, is an eager participant in conversation, and regularly says more-words-than-I-can-count sentences.   This is what she was like at 15 months:

Words:

  1. Ma-ma:  Mom
  2. Da-da: Dad
  3. Bra: Bruce
  4. bo: boat
  5. bo: bow
  6. da: duck
  7. da: doggie
  8. Ba-Ba: Roomba
  9. ba-ba: pacifier
  10. yeah: yes
  11. ba: book
  12. ba: ball
  13. bir: bird
  14. bra: bread
  15. Poh-Poh: Papa
  16. uh: up
  17. water
  18. more
  19. that

Baby Signs:

  1. bath
  2. eat
  3. drink
  4. milk
  5. backpack
  6. pacifier
  7. book
  8. dog
  9. duck
  10. cat
  11. pig
  12. bunny
  13. horse
  14. mouse
  15. Roomba
  16. ball
  17. baby
  18. toothbrush
  19. apple
  20. bird
  21. Grandma
  22. hug
  23. up
  24. kisses
  25. music
  26. potty
  27. ice-cream
  28. telephone
  29. frog