My friend Jane Rosenberg really has fun with her two girls, and one of the things they really have enjoyed is baby sign language. And one of the things that has impressed me is how the baby carrier she uses, the Ergo Baby Carrier, not only looks like such a comfortable carrier but also really makes it so easy for her to sign to her baby while the baby is in the carrier. Here is her article on how the two work together and help promote a real bond between mother and child.
Using Baby Sign Language Along With the Ergo Baby Carrier (Baby Sling)
Two of the biggest lifesavers I've come across in raising my two kids have been the Ergo Baby Carrier (baby sling) and Baby Sign Language. The Ergo has been so wonderful because my kids love being in it, it is lightweight and comfortable, and I can get so much more done during the day wearing my baby in the carrier. When my second daughter was an infant the Ergo carrier was the easiest way to comfort her and get her to sleep (she just really loved being next to me, and with the Ergo I could cradle her for hours at a time without any discomfort, arm or shoulder pain, etc).
Baby Sign Language has been the other wonderful tool that I've come across in raising both my girls. It has enabled me and my husband to really "talk" with our girls at a very young age. While this ability to "talk" with them has a lot of utilitarian benefits (they let us know what they wanted to eat, if they needed a drink, etc.), the main thing I love about it is that I really get a chance to see into their hearts and minds at a much earlier age than if I had waited till they could verbally talk. My oldest started signing at 9 months and my youngest (now 12 months) at 6 months and both had at least 50 signs at a year. Knowing what they have to say at such an early age is such a heart warming experience for both my husband and me. I know Baby Sign Language has really helped to lessen our girls' frustration in getting their needs (food, drink, toys, play, etc.) met, and it has provided us a window into their baby world as well.
Actually, the Ergo Baby Carrier has worked extremely well with the whole Baby Sign thing. First using the Ergo carrier, rather than carrying my baby in my arms, frees up my hands so I can sign to her when we are walking around and exploring her new world. And secondly since the baby faces inward (toward me) when in the front position in the Ergo (unlike the Baby Bjorn and other front carriers where the baby faces outward), my daughter is able to look directly at me when I'm signing and easily pick up the signs I'm using. So having my baby in the carrier with me all the time enables me to easily talk and sign to her about all the things we are seeing and doing together.
One thing that both surprised and amused me was how using the Ergo Carrier affected the way in which my youngest baby signs. Because she has been in the carrier so much when we are out and about, she has adapted some signs so they will work for her when she is in the carrier. One example is how she reworked the sign for "dog". She just loves dogs, and gets all excited when she sees one when we are at the park or on a walk. At first I didn't catch on that she was signing "dog" by patting her chest - the sign for "dog" we used with my older daughter was just to pat your leg, and that had been what I had been using with my youngest as well. Then I realized that she couldn't make this sign while in the Ergo Carrier - her legs just weren't accessible to her short little arms. So all on her own she came up with a new way of signing "dog" by patting her chest instead. I was really impressed with her creativity, and her way of signing "dog" works just as well and is very cute. I really hadn't thought before this how using the Ergo Carrier can both promote signing as well as affect how some signs are made, but as it turns out, the two work wonderfully together.
Jane Hastings Rosenberg
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