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By James Ensor
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Young parents and their recently-born children sat in a circle around Sheryl White, founder and owner of Baby Kneads, on the morning of Thursday, September 8. For over an hour, the children’s room of the Westwood Library was home to Sheryl’s lessons on American Sign Language for babies. Signs included a squeezing hand motion for milk, and she explained that even before babies can speak, the signs could accelerate their learning. For example, if a parent makes the milk sign and says “milk” in English, or “leche” in Spanish, the baby could begin to make the bilingual connection that the words have the same meaning.
The Baby Kneads program highlights other benefits of Sign Language as well, such as reducing frustration, deepening bonding, accelerating spoken language, enhancing early literacy skills, and giving babies the ability to express themselves before they can speak. Sheryl also provides Infant Massage lessons. The massages relax and soothe babies, help them sleep better, deepen bonding, help digestion and provide relief from ailments such as colic.
“The program was very popular, and is part of our Early Childhood Development programs,” said a Westwood children’s librarian. “These programs are not run through the library, but are hosted in the children’s room.”
“Sheryl White of Baby Kneads captivated parents and babies alike as she demonstrated how to use sign language with babies and toddlers,” added Janet Lucey, Early Childhood Coordinator for the Westwood Public Schools. “The audience was fully engaged as Sheryl utilized a variety of props throughout her presentation. Parents and caregivers learned signs they can use in every day experiences while interacting with their babies. Sign language strengthens the connection between baby and caregiver.”
Sheryl is a mother of three and founded Baby Kneads after practicing sign language and infant massage on her own babies. Since 1999, she has been teaching classes on the subjects to parents, teachers, professionals and caregivers. She believes babies are much more aware than we give them credit for, and had a life-changing experience when her day-old daughter seemed to recognize a song Sheryl had written and sang during pregnancy. More information about Baby Kneads can be found at www.babykneads.com.