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March 4, 2014 > Sign, Say and Play: Giving Babies the Gift of Communication

Sign, Say and Play: Giving Babies the Gift of Communication

Class Promotes Parental Confidence and Communication With Your Baby

One of the greatest joys of becoming a new parent is expressing your love with your baby. But when your baby starts to cry and you have no idea why, it can be frustrating trying to figure out why your baby isnÕt happy. Fortunately, Washington HospitalÕs Maternal/Childhealth Education Center offers a program that can help parents communicate and respond to their babiesÕ cues.
For more than 10 years, Arlene Fryling, a certified instructor at Washington Hospital, has been teaching ÒSign, Say and Play,Ó an interactive class that gives parents the tools they need to teach their babies and toddlers to communicate before they can speak. Fryling came upon this course when she had two small boys of her own that would throw temper tantrums when they had trouble communicating what they wanted.
"About the time children are getting to toddler-hood, it gets hard to read their cues because babies and toddlers can't communicate their needs verbally, which often leads to temper tantrums," Fryling explains. "Signing gives us a bridge when they have the ability to understand language, but they don't have the physical ability to get the words out. They can tell us what they're thinking before they can say it.Ó
Yes, Your Baby Can Communicate

The Sign, Say and Play Class is a six-week course structured in a playgroup format and offers new moms and dads the opportunity to enjoy a fun family activity with their babies. The class is highly recommended for babies six months to 14 months of age.
Each week of the class covers a different theme, incorporating normal activities of daily living, such as mealtime, bath time and bedtime and the corresponding signs. Fryling uses games and songs, and while babies don't learn all the signs during class, families leave each session with all the tools to practice signing at home, including a DVD, books and a music CD.

ÒResearch has shown that learning signs at this age can help accelerate a childÕs language development as they get older,Ó says Fryling. ÒA couple of different parents have told me afterwards that the best thing they ever did was to do signing with their child. It's a fun experience for the whole family, and I've watched older siblings teach the younger ones. Sometimes it's those little things that just make parenting so much more fun."

Fun for the Entire Family
Another benefit to the Sign, Say and Play Class is how much fun it can be to be an active participant in your childÕs growth and development. The classes are open to the entire family including grandparents, siblings, cousins and other caregivers.
ÒI think this class is really great for new dads,Ó says Fryling. ÒInteracting with a baby is a foreign experience for some people. Sometimes new parents need to be taught on how to play with their children. This class is a great opportunity to bond with your baby in a comfortable setting with other people that are going through the same experience.Ó

Find the Right Childbirth and Parenting Class for You
Are you pregnant, nursing, or just looking for an informative or fun class to sharpen your skills as a parent or parent-to-be? Chances are that Washington Hospital's Maternal/Child Education Center has the resources to fit your needs. We offer prenatal and postpartum exercise classes for new and expecting moms, breastfeeding support and childbirth education for first time moms and dads.

The variety of classes and programs ranges from potentially lifesaving, such as CPR for Family and Friends, to innovative and fun, like Sign, Say and Play. All of the classes take place in a comfortable setting at our stand along location at 3569 Beacon Avenue in Fremont. To find the right class for you, visit us online at or call (510) 818-5040 for class descriptions, class dates and fees. You can also stay connected on our Facebook page by typing: Washington Maternal Child Health.

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