Baby talk: Tiny tots communicate through sign language


by Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 19 at 6:00 PM

HOUSTON— We all know that babies can’t talk, but there are some parents who know exactly what their children are saying – without saying a word.

Karen Miles showed KHOU 11 News how she taught her 3-year-old daughter, Harper, to communicate through sign language.

"What’s the sign for daddy?" asked Miles. Harper immediatelydemonstrated the sign.

"That’s right" said her mom.

Miles said it’s a lot like getting your child to speak, but at a much younger age.

"It was amazing," she said. "It’s like the same thing as them issuing their first word.

Mindy Hefty has a 2-year-old daughter who signs.

"Once she learned one, she was ready to learn another and another and another," said Hefty.

Hefty said, with Elise, it took patience and repetition. You can learn to sign through books or online, but it’s also being offered in classes.

Mimi Vance sells how-to books about baby sign-language and also offers a class at the Motherhood Center, located at 3710 W. Alabama.

"Signing is to talking as crawling is to walking," explained Vance. "Once they get the idea that if they do a sign like this, which means milk, that you go and get milk for them or give them milk in whatever form they take, it sets the synopsis and says, ‘ah cause and effect.’"

Parents and children learn sign language, in part, through songs.

Hefty remembered the day it clicked with Elise.

"I could just see in her head that the understanding that this is communicating," she said. "If I can just do this, I am saying something."

It worked so well with Harper, Karen Miles is now teaching her son, Hudson.

"And you know he’s getting it because he’ll smile," said Miles. "He’s not necessarily doing them right now, but I say do you wanna eat, his eyes light up and he knows."

Click here for more info about sign language.

Click here for more info on the class at the Motherhood Center.