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Speed up your Baby's Verbal Development with Sign Language

Posted on 24 September, 2018 at 9:05 Comments comments (0)

Hearing you baby start talking is one of the biggest joys as a new parent, but getting to that moment comes after months of waiting and anticipation…what is their first word going to be? When is it going to come? While every child learns to speak at a different time, one thing that can definitely help them to communicate sooner and speed up their verbal development is teaching them sign language.

“The brain is very elastic and able to communicate before our speech even develops, which allows sign language to be a mode of communication prior to the first word emerging,” said Paula Lemane, paediatric audiologist with the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Some parents worry that babies who sign will rely solely on gestures to communicate, rather than learning how to speak, however, research shows that communicating with signs doesn’t interfere with speech, and this approach actually fosters language development. You get down to your child’s eye-level, you say the key-word, you do the sign, you say the word again, you are reinforcing speech, not hindering it.

“And as soon as the child learns the word for something, they drop the sign language completely because it’s so much faster for them to get their needs met by speaking,” she said.


“The data are very clear that facilitating the child’s communication in any way will help their ultimate growth in language and further their communication skills,” said Elizabeth Crais, PhD, speech-language pathologist and professor and coordinator of PhD Studies in the division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Lemane said that signing can be taught early and that babies as young as 6 months have been taught to sign. Speaking, on the other hand, generally doesn’t occur until children are at least 12 months old, with most children learning a few more words between 15 and 18 months and speaking simple phrases by 24 months of age.

Children begin comprehending language much sooner than they have the ability to verbalize. Learning to express their basic needs through sign language can help toddlers ask for what they want and ease the frustration (read: tantrums) that can come with an inability to speak, said Crais.

“By teaching kids gestures, they begin to learn words faster. They begin to pick up the notion of things like ‘more,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘give me,’ and ‘pick me up,’ and can map those concepts to real words over time,” she said.

Those babies are so clever.

Motherhood's Missing Frame - Getting Mom back in the picture

Posted on 11 September, 2018 at 10:40 Comments comments (0)

I’m so excited to tell you about an amazing series that is coming to Mellow Baby’s classes in Kanata and Westboro this fall.

THE MISSING FRAME - Pop Up Series with Irina Fortey photography

If you are not familiar with Irina and her art please do yourself a favour and head on over to her website and check it out; 

When Irina’s seven-year-old son told her she was missing from their family photos. Simply because she was too busy taking them. She realized she was creating photos for herself and zero for her children. They wanted to see their mother in photos, loving them, playing with them or simply glowing with pride. Born from the inspiration of a child, the missing frame series gives mothers and caregivers a chance to have their photo taken with their child, so they can gift them of a memory of their motherhood.

Every participant receives a short session and a photo as a keepsake.

Irina is a friend of mine and we have had this discussion on several occasions.

Motherhood isn’t just about the ‘perfect’ times with your little one, it about ALL of the real times as well. When you didn’t have your make-up on, when all you wanted was to be alone, when your little wakes you up in the morning looking for a cuddle, these are all amazing moments that make up the bond between you and your baby and we both feel strongly that it is so important to capture these moments.

You have never had such a fan club as you have when your kids are little. They think you are amazing, they think you can do anything, they think you are beautiful and funny and an incredible singer. I know we sometimes laugh at these things but seriously, but can we just take a moment to appreciate that? How nice is that? How amazing to have someone look at you through rose coloured glasses with nothing but love in their eyes? All your imperfections and insecurities mean nothing to them, you are perfect and they love you more than anything. So show them that, get in those photos with them and capture those moments, that to them, are perfection.

I’m SO EXCITED that Irina is bringing her missing frame photo series to Mellow Baby. That means, that anyone who is enrolled in my Wellington Signing class at FAB BABY and my Kanata classes (massage & signing) at the Glen Carin United Church and my Barrhaven Massage & Signing clases will get a session with Irina as part of your sign up!

Which give you even more reason to come and check out one of my amazing classes. September sign up is now open, (click here)  Mellow Baby has new locations in; Barrhaven, Kanata, Westboro & Orleans and it would be so great to see some of you there!

Jenni <3

Six great reasons you should teach your child to Sign

Posted on 6 August, 2018 at 21:05 Comments comments (0)

Six great reasons you should teach your child to Sign with Mellow Baby

If you are a parent of a baby or toddler (or currently pregnant) you probably have heard of “baby signing.” But why would you want to use sign language with your child? Sign Language has so many benefits, which is why it’s so great for babies and children of all ages to learn it.

It is important to consider simplified baby signing as the use of gestures rather than ‘a language’. A language would have a host of grammatical rules and expressions attached to it. Even if parents don't train their baby too use symbolic gestures, it is likely babies will naturally use them anyway. For example, pointing at something they are asking about, tugging at their sweater if they wish to take it off, etc. Understanding baby gestures can improve communication and make parents more sensitive to what their babies are thinking about. This can have profound benefits. When parents are more tuned into their baby’s thoughts and feelings, babies are more likely to develop secure attachment relationships.

There are many benefits of teaching sing language to your child. I’ve outlined 6 of them for you here;

1. Sign language provides the ability to communicate earlier than speech

You probably already know that babies and toddlers are able to understand far more than they can express. Receptive language skills, what they can understand, develop earlier than expressive language skills, or what they can say. In fact, the motor skills and auditory perceptual skills needed to articulate speech are simply not developed enough to produce words until around 10-12 months of age (give or take) and then they continue to develop for years.

2. Earlier communication can decrease tantrum behaviour

Many early tantrums in toddlers are often a result of their inability to communicate their wants and needs effectively. By giving your child the gift of sign language as an early communication tool, you may see a decrease in tantrum behaviour as he will be able to communicate to you more effectively than with speech and gesture alone. I, for one, would do anything to avoid the grocery store meltdown!

3. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s vocabulary and language skills

When you are teaching your child sign language, you will find yourself saying the name of the sign out loud many, many times as you show your child the sign. You will find yourself talking a lot about the items you are teaching. For example, when you see a dog walk by you may stop, get down at your child’s level, and say (as you are signing dog) “Johnny! Do you see the DOG? It’s a D-O-G (as you continue to sign) See the DOG? Look, DOG (as you sign again)” You will find yourself talking about things more and repeating things more than if you were not teaching your child sign. This repetition, both auditory and visually, may help to expand your child’s receptive and expressive vocabulary and language skills.

In addition to the increased verbal repetition that sign often provides, it also provides language opportunities in a tactile, kinesthetic, and visual modality. Presenting vocabulary and language in a modality other than only verbal increases the child’s ability of learning.

4. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s reading and spelling skills and even IQ

There is research to support that hearing children who are taught sign language from an early age have better reading and spelling skills and yes, even higher IQ scores down the road.

5. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s visual attention skills and joint attention skills

Using and understanding sign language requires a child to utilize his visual and joint attention skills, both of which are very important skills in both learning and social interactions. It’s also great to learn from an early age, that eye contact and attention are so important when someone is trying to communicate with you. If you extend that courtesy with them, they will be more likely to practice it themselves.

6. Teaching sign language to your child is So. Much. Fun!

Honestly? It is so much fun teaching sign language to your child. Mellow Baby uses music and puppets - what else do you need to know? The babies love it. Even if you are not as excited about the benefits and functionality of signing, it’s such a great way to have fun and try something new. But the fact that they are secretly gaining all of the benefits is win-win.