Baby Sign Language

 

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I was bored one night at home, watching over Linden do his tummy time, so I decided to Google “things to do with babies”.  After scrolling through a bunch of useless things to do with babies, I came across Tiny Talking Hands, a sign language program for babies.  Ever since I was little, I had a fascination with sign language because I always thought of it like a secret language or code that most people wouldn’t understand.  Naturally, when I came across a baby sign language program, I was intrigued. I clicked on it to find out more, and it was seriously a life changer.  I contacted Amanda at Tiny Talking Hands via email to ask more about her program, how old babies had to be for us to attend classes, cost, and availability.  She responded later that night, and because all her classes were full at the time, she informed me of the possibility of opening a second Level 1 (or beginner class).  Thankfully, she had enough people to do a second level 1 class, so we jumped at the opportunity and we are so glad we did.  Its honestly, the best class we have our son enrolled in.

Linden was 6 months old when we started the classes, and to be honest, we were a little skeptical as to how a class full of babies would be able to pay attention and learn or watch signs.  To our amazement, it was a success!  The moment Amanda introduced Bebo (the sign language bear) and got the music going, all the babies stopped what they were doing and just stared.  7 babies ranging in age from 4 to 18 months were 100% focussed on this signing bear.  They were intrigued by this giant bear singing and signing to them.  The one-hour class involves music, singing and signing, then Amanda reads a book to the babies, we go through flash cards, there’s some parachute time with music that the babies loved to bop to, and finally a wind down, complete with a goodbye song to end the class.  The classes are just long enough to keep their attention, and usually by the end of the class, most babies were ready for their nap.  In every class, we were not only shown signs, but given tools for how to teach our babies to sign, which was such an asset in signing with our kids.  Parents were taught what to look for, and what cues that your baby may be giving you to signal that they’re getting ready to potentially start signing.

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Linden crawling around, chilling with Bebo, happy as can be

The Baby Signs program is catered specifically towards babies, and differs slightly from regular American Sign Language (ASL).  (For example, some of the baby signs incorporate sounds to appeal to the babies, and after one of the classes, Nate turns to me innocently and says “why do we make a sound for the dog sign or the frog sign, a person who is hard of hearing can’t hear us making that sound” and I had to explain to him that the sign language classes we were taking had been altered to be more “baby friendly”, so adding sounds would get the baby’s attention).  Amanda is great at teaching us the baby sign, and then informing us of what the ASL sign is, for any signs where there is a difference.  Amanda’s philosophy is simple – we are here to facilitate communication with our babies (who are usually too young to be verbal), so even if we had been doing a different sign with our child, the bottom line is that its really whatever works for each parent and child.  She’s there to give us the tools to help us communicate with our babies.

Although the program is for the babies, the parent(s) are taught the signs, and its up to us to use those signs at home.  After the 6 week course, we walked away with a wealth of knowledge.  The program is surprisingly easy, and remembering all the signs is actually easier than you might anticipate.  I for one, suck at remembering stuff, so I thought this would be a huge challenge.  But because of the way the program is set up, there is a different theme every week, so it actually makes memorizing the signs insanely easy.  Every week, we are taught 10 new words pertaining to the theme of the week, as well as an emotion, which is repeated throughout an entire song (usually 7 times), so there’s a lot of repetition throughout the class so you don’t forget the signs.  Both my husband and I walked out of the course knowing well over 80 signs (excluding the 20+ signs we learned from the extra Easter class that we took).

Over the course of the classes, Nate and I talked about which 5 signs we considered the most useful, and the most likely for our 6 month old to learn.  Those signs were “more”, “milk”, “eat”, “play” and “tired/sleep”.  And the other 2 signs that we use on a daily basis, are “mommy” and “daddy”.  We try to remember to do the signs as often as possible, but we’re still trying to get the hang of it.  So far, we think Linden does the sign for “more”, but he kind of has his own version of it, I think because he doesn’t quite have the dexterity in his hands and fingers yet.  We are working on correcting his signs, but for now, they’ll do since we know what he’s trying to tell us.  We also think he might be doing the sign for “milk”, but he hasn’t signed it consistent enough for us to believe that its more than just a coincidence.

We’ve noticed in the last couple of days, that Linden is very attentive in watching our hands when we sign with him, and we are hoping and excited that this could be the beginning of his signing with us!

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Nate and I were reflecting over the classes today (since it was our last level 1 class), and he asked me, if we had other kids in the future whether I would take them to these sign language classes since we already know all the signs.  My response was an obvious and quick ‘Yes’, because, although we learned so much in the classes, we both agree that Linden had so much fun there – interacting with the other kids, playing with the toys, getting “into the themes” (like splashing in the bath that Amanda brought out for the bath time theme, wearing his pyjamas during the bed time theme, etc), listening to music, watching Bebo and all his signs – that we would love to be able to give that opportunity to our future kids (if we are fortunate enough to have more).  Lastly, upon completion of the 6 week course, you and your baby are given a certificate for participating and completing the program, which just solidified the professionalism and authenticity of the program.

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If anyone is interested in finding out more about the Baby Signs Program, visit www.tinytalkinghands.ca or check them out on Facebook here.  You won’t regret it.  And, if you’re interested but not sure about the investment, contact Amanda (amanda@tinytalkinghands.ca), she hosts her classes in Langley, BC, and runs one-time classes for Easter, Christmas, Halloween and other special dates/events for $10, and you can see if you like it before you commit to a full 6 week course.  But you have the WTF Parent warning that if you attend one of those classes, you’ll be wanting more!

7 Month Update

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March 14, 2016.

Linden had his 7 month check up, although it was more like his 7.5 month check up.  Here is what we learned from his visit to the doctor…

  • It is normal that Linden only poops once a week since he’s been on solids once a day and breastfed the other times.
  • He needs to be eating more solids – 3 times a day, and breastfed 4 times a day.  This will help with longer stretches of sleep at night.
  • Introducing new foods at night is probably not a good idea in case they give him gas.
  • Babies this age need more food during the day, rather than one big meal at night.
  • Stranger anxiety is a good thing
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Linden trying to show his independence, eating on his own

At 7 months, Linden is now:

  • Pulling himself up on furniture, toys and whatever else he can find to help him stand.
  • He can hold your finger and walk, although very wobbly.
  • He is full on crawling, and you better keep an eye on him!
  • He sits on his own, (although often stretches his arms out like he’s surfing) to balance himself
  • He is taking an interest in sign language, and although he doesn’t have full control of his hands/fingers, he tries to do the sign for “more”.  But its more like slapping his knees, rather than putting his hands/fingers together.  He is very interested in our hands when we sign with him.
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Linden’s first time bowling

So far, we have fed him cooked pears, sweet potatoes, oatmeal cereal, raw bananas, raw apples and raw pears.  He likes nothing raw.

At 7 months, his measurements are:

  • 16lbs 6oz
  • 26.5″ long
  • 44cm head circumference

He has finally outgrown his phase of a possible sleep regression, I have no idea what it was.  But he went through about 3 weeks of not wanting to be put down to sleep and would only sleep while on me, or on the nursing pillow.  It was very strange, but I’m so glad he is “over it” now.

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People always mention that time flies with a baby/child, and no truer words have been spoken.  Thats one reason why I love blogging – I get a chance every month to write about the milestones that our son has hit, the new things he’s learned, the things we got to experience with him (like swimming and sign language, etc), and I get to reflect on the time I’ve had, and appreciate how fortunate we are to be blessed with such an amazing and healthy baby.  Our lives have changed, no doubt, our patience has been tested, but its all been for the better, and our lives are so much richer since our son was born.

Product Review: Nēnu Family (Teethers & Infant Cutlery)

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I was so excited to receive this package from Nēnu. I was especially looking forward to the baby spoon and fork set, and was extremely impressed with all their products.  Below is a full review of their line of baby products.

Nēnu Bud

The Nenu bud teether was amazing for our 6 month old son.  Our son has been teething since he was about 4 months, but hasn’t cut any teeth yet.  He drools so much, and I’m sure as parents, you can all relate with your own babies, that he also loves to put everything in his mouth.  The Nēnu Bud has to be one of his favourites.  I’m sure many of you when faced with a teething baby, will be willing to try pretty much anything to alleviate the discomfort your baby is experiencing.  We’ve tried every teether you can imagine, including homemade frozen breastmilk popsicles.  The Nēnu Bud has raised the bar.  I would even say that it “one ups” the famous Sophie (the giraffe teether).  Our son loves his Nēnu Bud – and will literally chew on it for over a half hour.  The top part of it is round and is perfect for him to hold on to, and wrap his tiny hands around it. He has no problems grasping it.  The leg parts of the teether have ridges on them, and are slightly longer than the arm sections, and our son loved that he could get it to the back of his gums to alleviate some of the teething pressure on his back molars.  I think thats been one challenge we’ve had – to find a teether for his back teeth.  We haven’t been able to find something that heIMG_5385 can really get to the back of his mouth, without him gagging or choking on it.  The  structure of the Nēnu Bud is also great, in that it doesn’t lose its shape, so our son doesn’t end up with a mouthful of teething toys.  It just targets the gums, rather than the whole mouth.  For example, we have a Chewbead necklace, but our son literally tries to put the entire thing in his mouth. He ends up choking on it sometimes and getting drool everywhere.  Because the Nēnu Bud is shaped properly, he’s not jamming the whole thing in his mouth and drooling all over the place.  Its seriously an amazing teether or chew toy for a teething baby.

Lastly, we have a shedding,  70lbs golden doodle at home, and the material on the teether prevents hair/fur from sticking to the teether like other toys.  If there’s a ton of hair/fur, some will stick, but not anywhere close to the amount from other toys.

Nēnu Bug

These are the perfect teethers for a 7 month old.  Our son has been teething since he was about 3 months, but still hasn’t cut any teeth yet.  He’s constantly trying to put things in his mouth, and chewing and sucking on everything in sight.  Enter Nēnu teethers.  They’re awesome.  The size of them is just perfect.  They are 100% made and designed in the USA so you don’t have to worry about any safety issues with them.  They are the perfect size and shape for our 7 month old to hold, grip, and chew on.  The Nēnu Bug has 4 legs on it, and each leg is about the width of his thumb (which he loves to suck, yes we have a thumb sucker), so it has a sense of familiarity to it.  We put it in the fridge so its nice and cold and probably feels good on his gums when he gets it.  They can also be used as a bath toy since they float!

Nēnu Spoon and Fork Set
IMG_5319I was so excited to receive the Nēnu Spoon!  I love the fact that the shape and girth (or width) of the handles emulate that of an adult’s finger, making it very easy for my 7 month old to handle.  (Our son loves to hold our finger when he is unsure of things, and often, holds my husband’s finger to help him fall asleep in the car.  He uses the familiarity of our finger to help sooth him).  Linden was stoked to be able to feed himself (although I think he gets more all over himself than he does in his mouth, but thats beside the point!).  He had no issues holding the spoon, and it fits great in his mouth, and holds a good amount of food (not too much, and not too little).  I also love that the spoon has little “legs” or nubs, on them, which can rest on a table without getting the table dirty.  This is actually a big deal, because when you’re feeding a 7 month old, they’re messy enough and they get food everywhere.  So, if you can prevent something from getting dirty, like a portion of your table, thats one less thing you have to clean.  And as a tired mom, thats something that I appreciate more than you know.  You can place the spoon down (with food on it), and it sits perfectly level, with the scoop part sitting above the table so it doesn’t get it dirty.  See pic below. The “legs” on the spoon and fork also allow you to “hang” or sit them on the edge of a bowl or plate, which is kind of nice.

The lone issue that I had with the fork and spoon set, was that the handles on them are too short.  The handle length is great if your infant is at the age where they can feed themselves.  But at 7 months, ours isn’t quite co-ordinated enough, so we still have to feed him.  The length of the handles were an issue because our son tries to feed himself, but he ends up getting food and drool all over the handle of the spoon, and all over our hands.  Because of the short handle on the spoon, he literally gets food all over it, all the way to the end of it, and it makes it very difficult for us to get a good grip on the handle to feed him.  I don’t know if its just our son, but he had a tendency to grab the spoon below the legs/nubs on the spoon (closer to the handle, further from the food), which was awesome, because it prevented him from grabbing the food before it got to his mouth!  So the legs on the spoon almost act as a buffer to prevent them from putting their hands all over the food.  But again, that may have led us to the problem where the handle seemed too short for both our hand, as well as our son’s hand.

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Overall, Nēnu is an amazing company for baby products.  All their products are designed in Seattle, and made in the USA.  With this, you know exactly what you’re purchasing, and can feel a sense of comfort knowing the materials are all safe, up to standard, tested and approved for babies.  Second, their customer service and communication far exceeded my expectations, and I would highly recommend them.  (These will also make a great baby shower gift package, in case you need ideas!)

Key Features of the Nēnu Products

  • BPA, Phthalate, Vinyl, Latex, Cadmium, and Lead Free
  • 100% made in the USA
  • FDA rated medical grade materials
  • Freezable
  • Floats (so it can be used as a bath toy or a toy in the pool!)

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Designed in Seattle, Made in the USA

If you’ve got a teething baby on your hands, and are in the market for some awesome teethers, Nēnu has generously offered you a 20% discount code at checkout direct from their website.  Their spoons and forks are also a hit with the little ones, so I’d totally recommend placing an order!  Seriously, give these teethers a try, you won’t regret it.  In fact, I’m off to place an order for my best friend who’s baby shower is coming up next month!  Click here or visit www.nenufamily.com and use coupon code WTFParent20 for 20% off and free shipping on your order (valid until March 23, 2016)!

*Disclaimer:  I was offered this product at little or no cost, in exchange for a review.  All reviews are based 100% on our personal experiences and I am in no way obligated to give a positive review.