'Milk' is one of the first signs that www.babysignlanguage.com recommends teaching.
I used sign language with all four of my kids, including my twin girls, when they were very young. Babies are able to use their hands and fingers before they are able to talk, so sign language gave them a way to communicate when they couldn't speak. It also served as a bridge between Spanish and English, which was important to me because I am raising my children bilingual.
Learning How to Communicate
I had heard from various people that sign language is a great tool to teach your baby starting at 6 months, so I took a class with my firstborn, Jordan, when he was about that age. A friend and I drove about 40 minutes from where we live to attend the class.
I did not take a sign language class with my twins, but I remembered the signs I had used with Jordan and there were lots of other ways the twins learned the signs. You can find many books with great illustrations that teach basic sign language, and we had a Baby Einstein video that the kids loved.
My kids also got to learn and use signs with each other. Sign language gave Jordan a way to communicate with the twins. Later, we used sign language with their younger brother as well.
Some of the most common signs we used were:
- Milk—open and close one hand as if you are milking a cow
- More—join your fingers together on both hands and then touch your fingertips
- Banana—hold your pointer finger up, then with the other hand pretend you are peeling a banana
- Cracker—make a fist with one hand and hit the bottom of your elbow
- Yogurt—hold one hand flat and open and stir on your palm with one finger
- Cheese—hold two hands flat, press together, and spin
- Shoes—make two fists with your hands and bump them together
- Socks—hold both pointer fingers together and slide up and down
I also used sign language to help with manners. My kids could all communicate sorry, thank you, and you're welcome way before they could speak.
Using sign language as a bridge between English and Spanish has been very helpful as I raise my kids bilingual. My husband's first language is English, so he would speak the English word that corresponded to the sign he was using. Meanwhile, when I used the sign, I would say the Spanish word. For example, the first word my kids learned was milk/leche. So, my husband would say "milk" while he opened and closed his right hand (it looks like you are trying to milk a cow), and I would say "leche" while using the same sign.
I didn't find a big difference between using sign language with the twins and using it with a singleton. It was always a big help as far as communication. It cut down on some of the frustration kids feel when they cannot communicate what they want—which cuts down on parents' frustration as well!
Sign imagery is courtesy of www.babysignlanguage.com, a fantastic resource for teaching your twins their first signs.
Want more Martiza? Check out her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!