If you sign, and chances are good that you are or will, since you are reading this blog, you’re going to have to be prepared. Once your baby starts signing, you will endlessly need to translate his signs to all the non-signers around him. The good news is that each time you do, you’ll have converted another poor soul from the speaking world to the baby sign language world! Consider yourself an enlightener. I guarantee that non-signers won’t go long without knowing what little junior is signing about. You’ll get “Oh, he’s doing this, what does it mean?” or “Hey Mom/Dad, your baby obviously wants something, what is it?” They might show give him some food and he might sign something back and your relative me be left wondering “Does he want more, less or is he just done – I can’t tell.” What they will know for sure is that your little guy will be saying something.
The odd time, you get someone rude saying that he’s just doing something weird, but this is quickly dispelled when you explain that signing is so much more peaceful and direct than whining, grunting and reaching.
Bringing your little buddy to family affairs moves him front and center. When he signs, people listen, they don’t just stare at him saying “Oh, he’s so cute” and dismiss him as being “a stupid baby” – for how could they. He’s talking, making himself noticed and more importantly is contributing member part of the conversation. He adds to the topics to be discussed, makes his wishes and desires known, and can accurately express the things he notices around him by labeling them.
Now signing isn’t a rush to turn him into an adult, rather, it’s a way of empowering him and bringing him closer to the things he wants. Yes, it helps mature him a touch, but not in a way that “ruins his childhood.” It’s not as if signing moves him closer to moving out, or anything of the sort. Signing is just a way to ease him out of the “terrible twos”, making his youth more bearable to the rest of us and less frustrating for him everyone, him included.
If you have parents or extended family around you who dismiss signing, then just show them the benefits. Show them that you can call down whining by using signs show them how signs are an instant mute button and how meeting your baby’s reasonable requests calms him and builds his self esteem. Most of all, just enjoy sharing your baby with other people and act as the bridge between his signing world and theirs. Lastly, always be sure to teach non-signers signs that are applicable so they can join in the conversation with your little guy. Nothing will make them happier than to chat it up with your preverbal guy.