This is Part 1 of a new series on baby signing.
I've been very excited the past few days, because Alrik has proven beyond doubt that he is now signing, at 9 months. We did sign language with Mikko when he was a baby, too, and he still knows a lot of signs at 4 years old (though we haven't kept it up as I'd hoped). Mikko didn't begin speaking until he was about 18 months old, but he started signing at 11 months, which gave us a welcome glimpse into the fascinating world inside his head. Based on my own experience and my research, I am a fervent advocate of using sign language with hearing babies.
Below is a video I compiled a long time ago but never posted here before (it was originally just to amuse our family) of 23 of Mikko's signs, as signed from 12 to 18 months of age.
It's a lovely sampling of some of the most popular signs to use with infants and toddlers, and it also shows you what it looks like when both an adult and a child perform the same signs. Sometimes it's challenging to recognize signs that babies are making, because they don't sign them the same way adults do.
I'm modeling what I sincerely hope are the correct American Sign Language (ASL) versions of each sign. My apologies if I've gotten anything wrong.
A few notes about the differences between an adult's and a baby's sign language abilities: You'll see Mikko the toddler makes many concessions in his movements, due to his more limited dexterity and his limited ability to replicate what he's seeing with what he wants his hands to do. He often uses whole hand motions in place of more particular finger motions, such as his flapping-hand motion for "cat"'s whisker feeling. He will also, for instance, point to his head with his index finger for the "mother" and "father" signs rather than his thumb, because it's more intuitive to point with a pointer finger (it's called that for a reason). He also is less precise in his movements, sometimes underemphasizing a sign (so you have to be watching closely to see it) and sometimes hilariously overdoing it. I think it's helpful as a parent to be aware of characteristics like these that crop up in a baby's signing abilities.
In case you're at all worried, I know for a fact that as dexterity and comprehension improve, so do the signs. It's just like spoken language — at first kids make a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and grammar, but they get better naturally, on their own timeline.
I hope you enjoyed the video!
Do you use baby signs with your hearing kids? Have you ever documented their signing in video or pictures?