My wife and I used sign language to communicate with Bella when she was about the same age as Maya is now, a little less than a year old. We read that baby’s know what they want but don’t have the language skills to actually say what they want. Like they know they are hungry, but can’t say, “hey mom, can you bust out one of those boobs, I’m hungry”, so instead they cry. We get the message and feed the little one.
As they grow older, they begin to understand more things about the world around them and therefore, will want more specific things. Like say we’re at the dinner table and Maya is being fed some yummy tofu, broccoli, squash combo that my wife painstakingly makes from organic everything. But Maya, is thirsty and needs some water. She knows she wants water, but all she can do is either cry… or like she’s doing now, point. Pointing is a sign, and if she can learn to point, surely she can learn other signs. And she has. Maya’s official first sign… not including pointing… is “more.” It’s amazing to see her communicate with us and so fun to see her face light up when we give her exactly what she was asking for.
We have started with the signs, “mom”, “dad”, “sister”, “more”, “eat”, “cereal”, “done” and “water”. Repetition is key. Whenever I walk into the room, my wife signs daddy, and points to me. Eventually they will understand what sign is associated with what object. And it doesn’t hurt to get some books on the subject. With Bella, the YWCA had some great classes that we attended. I really helped us get used to the idea of signing every time we say the word. Maya’s got one word down… only a matter off time before she’ll be signing to borrow the car.