Signing helps build strong baby bonds

Katie-Ann Sharp-Roden and her son Zac sing Old Macdonald
Katie-Ann Sharp-Roden and her son Zac sing Old Macdonald

BABIES may not be able to talk yet, but one class is set to teach new parents how to create a dialogue with their infants.

Babysign introduces parents and their children to British sign language and organiser Sarah Crombie-Wheeler said that through communication, stronger bonds can be built.

“Babies are not able to tell you what they want through words,” she said.

“So we use British sign language to reinforce the speech.”

Even though babies are unable to form words verbally, from an early age they understand language and through signing they are able to articulate basic needs, giving parents a window into their child’s mind.

It has also been estimated that children who are exposed to sign language have IQs 12 points higher than other children at just 18 months of age.

Sarah said that she started the class after trying sign language out on her own children.

Her son Rowan quickly picked up signs, and she added: “I started with my kids when they were six months old.

“Rowan has about eight signs and he was able to say ‘the chickens are outside and they are making lots of noise’ at only eight months old.

“It’s really nice to be able to understand what he’s trying to tell me, instead of him just crying and me trying to second guess what he’s trying to say.”

Babies can attend the class from birth, although they are not expected to be fluent signers at this age, and so the classes are also a great opportunity for parents to learn.

The meetings allow parents, predominantly mums, to get together in a social setting where they can discuss techniques and share each others’ achievements.

“You can’t expect the baby to start signing straight away,” said Sarah,

“The class is as much about teaching the mums so they can reinforce it at home.

“The children understand it because we’re reinforcing it so much.

“People are all sorts of learners, both verbal and visual, so we speak the word and we show them the sign.

“We never just speak, we always sign at the same time.

“We’re not replacing speech, we’re adding to it. If you have a baby who’s not talking yet this will give them a little help.”

Babysign is suitable for babies from birth to three years.

Classes take place at 9.30am on Mondays at Lythe Village Hall and 10am Wednesdays at the Green Lane Centre in Whitby.

Each six-week course costs £21 and for more information or to book a place call Sarah Crombie-Wheeler on 07800858812.

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