Archive for 2012

Signing & Rhyming

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

There are many ways to introduce baby sign language into home. In the first instance, at Baby Hands we recommend starting around your routines of the day.  These include your routines or eating, drinking, playing, changing, bathing and sleeping.

It’s important to start slowly and choose only 6 signs, a combination of practical and motivational signs.  Once you have made your selection, the most important thing is to be consistent and use these signs regularly with your baby.  This forms part of the steps to baby signing success!

Once you have received your first sign back from baby, I get many emails from parents asking for the next step.  What else can they do to progress their baby’s signing journey?  To compliment your baby signing through routines, using songs is another fantastic way to do baby signing with your baby.  The first baby songs such as nursery rhymes and lullabies emerged in the 17th century and since then we have a wide range of nursery rhymes to choose from.

So why would you use a nursery rhyme when signing with your baby?  Firstly, there is a lot of research out there on the benefit of using song with your baby.  The research highlights some of the following benefits of using song with your baby:

  1. Reading ability:  Some early childhood development research highlighted a strong relationship between the ability to keep a steady beat and the ability to read.
  2. Spatial reasoning skills:  In research studies it was found that music training can improve children’s future intelligence.  This was demonstrated in the study with kids being able to solve complex math and geometry problems, navigate ships and design skyscrapers. One specific study highlighted that preschool children exposed to music lessons for eight months, their spatial reasoning skills far exceeded that of preschoolers without music training.
  3. Rhythmic Speech: Using song with your baby helps them with more rhythmic speech.
  4. Memory:  It is beneficial for baby’s memory recall.
  5. Confidence & Self-Esteem:  It helps with their self-expressions and self-esteem.

These are just a handful of the benefits of using song with your baby.

But what if you add in baby sign language, does this change the benefits you are exposing your baby to?  The answer is YES.  There has been a lot of research into the use of baby sign language with song.

In a recent study, groups of babies and their parents spent six months participating in one of two types of weekly music instruction. One music class involved interactive music-making and learning a small set of lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. Parents and infants worked together to learn to play percussion instruments, take turns, do actions(sign) and sing specific songs.

In the other music class, infants and parents played at various toy stations while recordings from the popular “Baby Einstein” series played in the background.

The outcome from this study was that the children who were involved in the interactive class showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music preferring to listen to piano music that was played in key versus out of key notes.  They also larger/earlier brain responses to musical tones. Babies from the interactive classes also  showed better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye. Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.

In my Australian Baby Hands Book, there is a piece of research that I mention which highlights where 80 children were divided into 4 groups.  Each group were taught using sign and song, sign and spoken word, song only and spoken word.  The outcome was that the children who used a combination of sign and song had the biggest increase in vocabulary.

So next time you are signing your baby their favourite nursery rhyme add in a few signs at the same time, it’s more than just fun, it’s active learning 🙂






Your Bedtime Routine & Baby Sign Language

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

I have had many friends and families talk about the importance of getting their baby into a routine especially in relation to their baby’s sleep. Once this routine is established, it results in a happier baby and happier less sleepy parents.

But have you considered using baby sign language to help you establish and support this important routine in your life. Baby sign language is something that is simple to learn and easy to incorporate into this vital process – the Bedtime Routine.

The key to establishing a successful bedtime routine for your baby is consistency. This too is a key to success for baby sign language. For this reason, using baby sign language to support your baby’s bedtime routine is a great way to conquer two great systems at the same time, that will benefit you and your baby.

To help you establish your bedtime routine, below are some suggestions on how you can incorporate baby sign language into this routine which will ease your baby’s transition to sleep time.

  • Most parents bedtime routine starts after dinner with a bath. The great thing about using baby sign language is that it lets your baby know what’s going to happen next. There are no surprises for baby.
  • So before placing your baby in the bath, sign and say the word “bath” to let them know what is about to happen. Once the bath is over, sign the word “finished” to let them know that it is time to leave the water and get ready for bed.
  • Following a bath, some parents will brush their baby’s teeth. This is another sign you can use to establish the routine. This is done by brushing your index finger on your teeth like a toothbrush. Once this is done, you again can sign “finished” to let baby know it is time to stop.
  • Once baby is ready for bed, some parents like to read a bedtime story to them. Reading is very beneficial for your baby and a great way to introduce and reinforce baby sign language to your child. When you begin the activity, sign the word “book” to let you baby know that its story time. Choose a simple book and select some words or illustrations to sign to your baby. Again at the end of the story, you can sign finished. This again lets your baby know that the activity has ended.
  • Following the bedtime story, it is time for bed. Sign the word “bed” and place them in their cot / bed. Some parents like to sign “Good night” and “I love You” at this stage also.

Following a routine such as the one outlined above is a great way for you to practice your signs with your baby and to let your baby know what is happening next prior to doing an activity.

Many childcare centres who have incorporated baby sign into their centres have found that using the signs has resulted in a calmed child care centre as the baby’s know what is happening next and begin to know the routines through the baby signs used.

So why not get started with baby sign today and begin using it in your baby’s bedtime routine and see what results you get!

YourPet & Baby Sign Language

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Baby sign language has many uses.  Primarily it is used by parents to communicate with their preverbal babies. Some parents use baby sign language to reduce toddler tantrums.  Other parents use baby sign language to assist with toilet training.  These are just a sample of the many ways you can use baby sign language with your children.

But did you know that baby sign language can also be used with your pets such as your dog, cat or horse?  Over the years, I have received many stories from parents on their successes with baby sign language with their children but I have also received some amazing stories on people’s success on using baby sign language with their dog.

So why did they do this, how did they get started and what were the benefits?  Well, firstly the reasons these people introducing baby sign language to their dog varied.  In one instance I had a woman tell me how she worked in the local RSPCA shelter and she had a dog who was deaf.  She wanted to ensure he would be selected for a new home so decided to teach him sign to help the new owners.

She introduced words such as eat, sit, walk, stop, run, finished and drink.  With these signs, she could let the dog know when it was mealtimes.  She could also let him know when it was time for a walk.  If he was running around the park, she would sign at him finished and he would know it was time to go home.  The good news is this dog did go to a home thanks to this ladys efforts in teaching him to read sign language.

Other people who have introduced baby signs to their dog have done it for some of the same reasons that they introduce baby sign language to their children.  They want their dog to understand what is happening, when it is happening, when it is time to go/stay, time to leave, time to eat / drink etc. They want to be able to communicate with their dog and create a positive experience through positive parenting.

Debra Perrin of Cranebrook, N.S.W.  Sends us this note about her son, Connor.

Connor has now started to sign ‘drink, car and milk’.  (It’s hard to get them on film though.) He is a much happier little boy now we can understand each other. I cannot put into words how happy we are we started using ‘baby hands‘.

Using sign language with your dog is key to a great experience for you and your dog.  As well as introducing baby sign to your dog, you can look at introducing an official dog sign system called K9Sign.  This system involves you teaching your dog specific actions for words so they can communicate with you.

K9Sign opens the door to a depth of companionship while  enhancing day to day experiences together for the purpose of playing, working, or providing services. Most dogs alert their owner with standard actions you’ve probably seen in your own dog or a neighbor’s dog: barking, fetching, pawing, sitting, rolling over, or whining.  K9Signing empowers dogs to be more specific when  alerting their master.  It enhances the dog’s skills to express alerts about the environment.

Teaching a dog any form of sign language, whether it be baby sign or K9Sign, empowers you and your dog.  With baby sign, your dog understands what you are signing and what is happening next.  With K9Sign, your dog can tell you what they want and need, where they hurt, why they bark or what they smell. Better communication reduces frustration, enhances companionship, and provides mental clarity, stimulation, and brain development.

Most dogs can learn to baby sign or K9Sign. The most challenging dogs to teach are those who don’t respond to typical reinforcements. They may not consider food or toys rewards.  To get started, introduce some key signs around your routines of the day which may include Food Time, Walk Time, Sleep Time.  Signs that you may find useful are walk, run, eat, drink, stop, go, sit, lie and finished.  Every time you go for a walk, say walk and sign walk.  You can then introduce signs relating to the walk while on the walk such as run, stop, go and finished.

Some owners and their dogs go the distance and learn 100 signs while most only utilize about 10 signs, however the more you and your dog put in, the deeper your communication will be.  This is something fun to do with your dog and help strengthen your relationship with your best friend.

International Adoption Frustration Eased with Baby Sign Language

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012


International adoption is a great opportunity for families. And bringing small children into your home—whether biologically yours or not—comes with its own set of challenges. Big opportunities for success come in the early stages of the child’s adjustment into their new home. Australian Baby Hands wants to help you ensure early wins during this process. One of the keys is to ease frustration for these children who may have difficulties communicating due to language barriers.

Your adopted child may be exposed to a whole new language which they need to learn or you may continue to use their native language and introduce a second language. If exposing them to the new language of their adoptive country (more…)