Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Unofficial) Baby Sign Language

Okay, so Simone isn't a verbal processor like Sadia, her partner in crime. However, she is constantly using hand signals to communicate. While sign language is not my preferred method of communication, Simone does manage to get her point across. Essentially, more parents should recognize the value of Sign Language as a corner stone for speech development. Of late, Simone has mastered a few go-to signs that I would like to emphasize.

Take the matter that occured just this afternoon during the commute home form preschool/ work for instance: Sadia kept moving her face across the invisible plane which separates Simone's car seat from Sadia's booster, bringing Sadia's face within inches of Simone's. Now clearly, this was a breach of Simone's personal space. At one point I think I even heard the cartoonish bonk sound of head's knocking together as Sadia violated Simone's no fly zone, resulting in a head-on collision (literally) with Simone's forehead. Obviously, this maneuver was a risky one, as Sadia had received no clearance to enter Simone's air space. You could see how a basic head nod from Simone, indicating her disapproval, simply would not have sufficed. No. A more sophisticated cue was in order.

Enter Unofficial Baby Sign Numero Uno, also known as the open-handed slap across the face:
    Hold up dominant hand with palm facing out as if to initiate a high-five. With some force, extend the palm in the direction of the purveyor's face. Trace an invisible path across the cheek in one motion, making contact with the cheek, and follow through. Finish by snapping the palm back to the high-five position.
Contrary to popular belief physical contact is not characteristic of all Baby Signs. Though forceful, other signs often require no physical contact whatsoever.

Consider the incident which occurred during this evening's meal as an example: After suckling the last drop of milk from her bottle, Simone sought an immediate way to tell me that she was finished. Apparently, her desperate slurping of air did not solicit the response that she was looking for. A more direct approach for communicating the completion of her meal was needed.

Enter Unofficial Baby Sign Numero dos, also known as the bottle-put:*
    Rest the bottle close to the neck using the throwing (or dominant) hand. Thrust the throwing arm straight from the neck, keeping it tight to the neck while throwing, and push the bottle off of the fingertips. This motion should result in the bottle landing in a desired position on the floor, which will inevitably require that Mommy bend over to pick said bottle up off of the ground.
So, remember when your toddler uses Sign Language, it provides her with an amazing tool to establish fundamental building blocks for early communication. Frustration and tantrums are lessened, because your toddler can immediately communicate her demands until she can communicate verbally.**

*The bottle-put is a decisive gesture involving "putting" an object (usually unwanted) as far out of Mommy's reach as possible. It is common to use the term "bottle-put" in reference to both the bottle itself and the throwing motion.

**One reported draw-back resulting from (Unofficial) Baby Sign Language is that some parents reported a boost in sibling tantrums, as well as an increase in doctor visits for back related problems.


Brazenlilly said...

I am DYING! Love it.

Sarah said...

HA HA !!! Seriously, please publish a book. You are too funny!! :)

Eli has his own (unofficial) language ... not exactly "sign" as much as, well, "grunt." Pretty much everything sounds like "Uhh Uhh," but with varied intonation, volume, and syllables. For example, "Uh Uhhh, Mama!" translates, "Help Please, Mama!"

It's brilliant.


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