This is a big part of our lives so I wanted to make a special post about it now so that if it is ever mentioned in future posts people will know what I am talking about:
Baby sign language!
One of Ladybug's uncles is deaf so we have been teaching her Australian sign language (Auslan) from birth so that communicating with him will be just as easy and natural for her as communicating with a hearing person (well, an English speaking hearing person!) obviously at 3 hours old there is very little chance of her signing back to us, but there is every chance she is taking things in and learning about the world around her. Signing from the beginning just seemed like the logical way to go about things.
Now, at 16mnths old she correctly signs approximately 14 signs and understands even more.
Signing has not only helped her to communicate her needs with us (and vice versa), it has also helped us learn what her favourite things are - the first sign she used was 'aeroplane' which she continues to do every time she sees or hears a plane go by. From this we learnt that she has a particular interest in aeroplanes. 'Rufus' (our cat) and 'fire' followed soon after, which are also interests of hers (No we don't have a pyromaniac child, she used to enjoy watching her dad light the fire every evening throughout winter!) All of this before 12 months of age!
I also believe that signing with her has actually boosted her language development. Every time we use a sign we say the word along with it and as she has learnt the sign she has also learnt to speak the corresponding word. Now she is quiet articulate and has a broad vocabulary (for a 16 month old) There are also many signs she does not use yet but understands what they mean which makes explaining things much easier for us.
There are some great books and websites out there with lots of information on signing with your baby but you really don't need any of that. 'Baby sign' is modified slightly so that it's easier for little hands but due to Ladybugs uncle being deaf we have been teaching her straight up Auslan and she has picked it up just fine.
The Auslan website has a great Sign Bank dictionary which plays you a short video recording of the sign to any word you type in - we use this, along with Ladybug's uncles as our reference guide!
Another great resource for teaching Australian sign is Sign Planet which is full of games, ideas and info on teaching and learning about sign language. They have a tonne of printables which are handy for placing around your house so that you can quickly recall a sign when needed.
And lastly, there is Bilby Publishing who have several Auslan sign language books, including nursery rhymes (our fave is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and other stories and info on learning about the deaf community.