Give Your Baby a Hand

Alameda Mom Teaches Babies and Parents to “Talk” With Sign Language


     Your angelic baby inexplicably screws up her eyes and lets out a screaming wail while you play a one-sided
game of charade: “Are you hungry?” “Waaa …” “Wet?” “Waaaa …” “Tired?” “Waaaaa …!” Now you’re both wailing in frustration.
But wait — if mom or dad and baby knew a few simple signs, they could actually communicate. Twenty years of research has proven that signing with your baby reduces tears and tantrums, strengthens the parent-child bond and boosts language development.
     Alameda mother Mary Grace Basco, a professional sign language interpreter, experienced this firsthand when her now 5-year-old twins were infants. Once she taught them a few basic signs, those moments of stressful screaming dramatically decreased. “Most parents teach their babies how to wave bye-bye, but never realize that it could be the beginning of a large interactive vocabulary,” says Basco. “By 9 months, babies know what they want and need but dissolve into tears when they can’t tell us with words.”
     Now Basco teaches Alameda parents and babies in a six–week Baby Signs® program focusing on everyday experiences, including mealtime (with signs such as EAT, MILK, MORE, COOKIE, FINISHED), bath time, (BATH, BUBBLE, DUCK) and bedtime (STARS, BOOK, LIGHT-OFF, SLEEP). Sessions are full of games and songs, led by BeeBo, a giant cuddly bear puppet who models signs (when Basco puts her hands in his arms).
     “One of the most rewarding things signing with your children can give you,” says Basco, “is insight into their mental processes, like when they hear a sound and make the sign PLANE, DOG or RAIN.”


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