The founders of Baby Hand Productions are committed to creating visual and audio experiences that stimulate a love for learning, through positive and entertaining experiences, at a very young age. The My Baby Can Talk products have been developed to help your baby learn to talk to you before your baby can speak. We know, from experience, that babies can learn to talk to you with their hands if they are taught baby sign language in an engaging format that delights their senses and recognizes their amazing ability to learn.
What if you were unable to speak, unable to write or unable to walk and you were completely dependent upon another person to fulfill all your needs? Now imagine that all you want is a drink of water because you are thirsty. How would you feel if you were unable to communicate that need to that person? Do you think that you might be reduced to tears and screams if you were unable to have this basic need fulfilled?
If you have ever found yourself in a foreign country and have been unable to speak the native language you have experienced, at least in part, the situation that your baby experiences each day, all day long. Without the tools to communicate with the people around you, how would you order a meal or find a hotel? Your self-esteem and confidence would be challenged at every turn and you would likely become more and more frustrated.
Did you know that, if your baby is ten months or older, that she has the ability to communicate with you? Now all she needs are the tools! Please take the time to give her one of the greatest gift of all – to be understood.
Your baby wants to talk to you. Our products have been developed to help you give your baby the ability to talk to you before she can speak.
One of the founders of the company, Kathleen Waidhofer, is the proud mother of two young children, a son and a daughter. Kathleen talks about what inspired her to found Baby Hands Productions:
“Even before I had my own children, I was very fascinated with babies and young children. I have always regarded babies as being as intelligent as adults and simply having fewer experiences. In my experience, many people tend to underestimate the abilities of babies and consequently treat them as if they do not understand or cannot learn basic concepts. This perception seems to be even stronger in regards to babies who cannot yet speak.
When my first baby, John Conrad, was 8 months old my mother suggested that I teach him sign language so that he could communicate with me before he could speak. My mother gave me a book to use as a resource to teach him to sign. I was very excited to begin signing with my son and eagerly read the book. This book suggested that I create my own signs so that the signs would be simple enough for my baby to make and inspired by my baby. On the first day, John and I invented four signs. On the second day, both of us promptly forgot these signs. I was a new mother operating on very little sleep. So I decided to write down the new signs that we reinvented on the second day and promptly misplaced the list. At the end of the first two weeks, we were using one sign for everything and realizing that we could communicate just as well through simply pointing, I gave up in utter frustration.
So until John Conrad was able to talk we created what we called the “Fussy John Conrad List.” This was a list of things that I could do to attempt to comfort my baby when he was crying and it was not obvious why he was crying. The list included basic items such as change diapers, offer bottle, offer food, check temperature, offer favorite toy, etc. Sometimes the list helped and sometimes it did not.
A few years later I had a baby girl named Jessica. When Jessica was 10 months old I decided to try to teach her to sign. I purchased all the baby signing videos that were available and an ASL dictionary. I also read all the literature and studies that had been written in regards to signing with babies. I was determined to avoid the mistakes that I had made with John Conrad by using standard ASL signs instead of creating my own signs. Unfortunately, the videos that I purchased did not hold the attention of my daughter even though a number of the videos claimed to be produced in a format to teach babies directly. So I began to teach myself ASL from both a printed and on line dictionary as well as some videos. As I learned the signs, I began to teach Jessica.
There was a porcelain doll in my bedroom that fascinated Jessica from a very early age. Every night, after her bath, I would make the sign for the word “doll” and then bring the doll down from my dresser and let her play with the doll. One night, two weeks after I had begun signing the word “doll”, I sat my daughter near the dresser and asked her to make the sign for “doll” so that we could play with the doll together. With a huge smile and a twinkle in her eye, Jessica made the sign. The feeling that this gave me was similar to the feeling that I had with my son when he began to speak, but Jessica was so much younger. I was amazed and thrilled. This event gave me the encouragement that I needed to continue teaching her to sign.
By the time Jessica was 12 months old she knew more than 100 signs and her ability to learn signs was only limited by my knowledge of the vocabulary of the ASL language. Shortly after her first birthday she began to use signs in sequence such as “baby” “horse” and “mommy” “horse.” Jessica even began telling jokes about bugs on her foot and green owls in the trees. At eighteen months old, Jessica was able to sign more than 250 signs.
The difference between my relationship with my preverbal son and preverbal daughter was like night and day. Because Jessica could talk to me with her hands she was able to tell me what she wanted or needed and consequently she cried less and we both were far less frustrated. We never created a “Fussy Jessica List” because she simply told me with her hands what my son was unable to communicate at the same age. We developed a stronger bond at a younger age because we spent more time interacting with one another and she gave me a window into her world that would have normally had to wait until she could talk.
When Jessica began talking the words came fast and furious since she had already learned the associations between symbols (signs and words) and objects and actions – all by talking with her hands. Much of the testing and learning to place objects and actions into the correct categories had already been completed as a young baby and Jessica simply added the verbal word to her ability to communicate with her hands. In addition, Jessica moved very quickly from single words to complex sentences as she had earlier moved from single signs to combinations of signs.
It was common for people to approach me in public places to ask if I was signing with my daughter and inquire as to what we were saying. People were amazed that I was communicating with such a young baby and wanted to know how I had taught my daughter. I began to notice young babies everywhere who were struggling to communicate with their parents because they had no common language, no shared symbols. While Jessica and I were happily interacting with one another, Jessica’s peers were attempting to make the same connection by babbling or crying. I wanted to help.
I was very inspired by my daughter’s ability to talk to me with her hands before she could speak. The consequences of the difference between my experience with my preverbal son and my preverbal daughter was so marked that I decided to take all the knowledge that I had gained from my experiences with teaching my daughter to sign and create a resource that other parents could use to teach their babies to sign. I know how difficult it had been to teach myself and my daughter to sign. The challenge was that I myself had never signed before and the resources that were available to me were simply not effective in creating the learning context for my baby. I also know the demands that are placed on all parents and wanted to provide a resource that would make learning to sign entertaining and fun for both babies and parents so that they could both learn to sign together at the same time.”
This was the inspiration behind the founding of Baby Hands Productions, Inc. and the My Baby Can Talk video series. These videos are produced in a format that is specifically designed to teach babies to sign directly by capturing their attention through delightful and engaging images and sounds while at the same time holding the interest of a parent. In addition, these videos include images of Jessica signing every word presented. This demonstrates to parents that it is in fact possible for young babies to talk with their hands. Further, the image of a young baby, in the same age range as your own baby, ensures an identification which facilitates you baby’s ability to learn the signs presented. Finally, we have included a practical tutorial section at the end of the video to help parents to easily get started signing with their babies. Not only is it possible for a preverbal baby to communicate with you but it is fun and above all rewarding for both of you.
John D. Waidhofer is the President of the company and has more than twenty years of experience in high technology product development. His expertise includes a broad range of software applications specific to the video production field. He also holds a degree in International Business from San Francisco State University and is a partner in a high technology business consulting firm.
Kathleen Waidhofer is the Creative Director of the company and was the driving force behind teaching her daughter, Jessica, to sign. She is a dedicated mother of two and has firsthand experience with what it takes to teach a baby to sign from a non-signing background. Kathleen graduated from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations. She is the founder of a financial business consulting firm targeting high technology start-up companies and has been offering these services to Silicon Valley companies for more than fifteen years.
Both John and Kathleen are dedicated parents and advocates of recognizing babies as intelligent little people. They believe that babies will be recognized as such if they are given the tools to communicate before they can speak. Their vision is to make signing with babies as commonplace as teaching babies to speak – setting these intelligent and inexperienced little people on a life-long learning quest, exploring the world through symbols as well as direct experience. All babies would then be bi-lingual – an astonishing advantage in the world of globalization.
About Baby Hands Productions
Baby Hands Productions was founded on the principle that babies can communicate at a very early age. The founders of Baby Hand Productions are committed to creating visual and audio experiences that stimulate a love for learning, through positive and entertaining experiences, at a very young age.
Research shows that babies can learn to communicate effectively as early as ten months old, well before their vocal capacity to formulate spoken words is developed. Baby Hands Productions has created a line of videos and products that teaches babies American Sign Language (ASL) in a format that delights the senses while tapping into a baby’s innate language capabilities.
The My Baby Can Talk series was designed both to educate and entertain, engaging parents and babies equally. Plans are also in the works for an entire line of ancillary products that will support the learning process presented in the videos. Baby Hands Productions is dedicated to giving babies and parents an effective way to communicate at an early age, reducing frustration for both and creating a special bond that is so important for healthy child development.
About Our Products
My Baby Can Talk Video Series
My Baby Can Talk is a series of videos that help parents give their babies the tools to bridge the gap between the time babies can communicate and the time they actually speak. This stage of life generally falls within the range of ten to twenty-four months. My Baby Can Talk teaches babies American Sign Language (ASL) in a format that is engaging and entertaining for babies and adults alike. In addition to the direct teaching of signs, these videos spotlight baby products, toys and beautiful live footage set to classical music. Each video features baby Jessica, who can sign all the words in each video, along with an adult counterpart who also signs each word. Witnessing a peer communicate in this fashion inspires even the youngest babies, knowing they can perform these tasks, while the adult guidance ensures that the most pristine form of each sign is demonstrated.
Benefits for Babies:
- Reduces frustration and encourages communication
- Enhances social development and boosts self-esteem
- Provides babies with emotional stability as well as increased intelligence and improved memory
- Fosters babies’ natural curiosity and desire to learn
- Helps baby to speak sooner with a larger vocabulary
Benefits for Parents:
- Reduces frustration and facilitates communication
- Fosters proactive participation in baby development
- Strengthens the bond between parent and baby
Doug Waidhofer, President
With more than twenty years of experience in high technology product development, Doug Waidhofer is President of Baby Hands Productions, responsible for product development, retail partnerships and corporate oversight. His expertise includes a broad range of software applications specific to the video production field. He holds a degree in International Business from San Francisco State University and is a partner in a high technology business consulting firm.
Kathleen Waidhofer, Creative Director
Kathleen Waidhofer was the driving force behind teaching her daughter, Jessica, to sign, the inspiration for the founding of Baby Hands Productions. She is a dedicated mother of two and has firsthand experience teaching babies to sign from a non-signing background. Kathleen graduated from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations. She is the founder of a financial business consulting firm targeting high technology start-up companies and has been offering these services to Silicon Valley companies for more than fifteen years.
- Researchers have proven that baby signing facilitates language development
- Research has also shown that babies who use signs to communicate pre-verbally score higher on IQ tests
- Learning sign language reduces frustration, decreasing the frequency of temper tantrums so broadly associated with the “terrible twos”
- At 4 months of age, infants possess the prerequisite ability to classify gestures based on variations in movement in ways that correspond to inflectional distinctions in ASL.
- Studies show that infants prefer ASL to pantomime as early as 6 months, indicating an underlying desire for language acquisition.
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Doug Waidhofer has over twenty years of technical experience in emerging software and hardware development. He has worked as a Systems Engineer and Software Developer for some of the industry’s top companies, including Fairchild Semiconductor and Intergraph Electronics. Doug also provided independent software consulting services to many start-up companies throughout Silicon Valley.
In 1997 he teamed up with Kathleen, his business and life partner, to help grow her software consulting company, Flashpoint. Soon prospective clients were willing to wait more than six months to receive business solutions. As the business grew, the Waidhofer family also grew with their first-born John Conrad, and their second baby Jessica.
Doug and Kathleen were dedicated to building Flashpoint, but also to the successful growth of their family. Despite a booming business, they arranged their schedules so that at least one of them could be with their children at all times. After the birth of their son, Doug and Kathleen were frustrated to find that there was a lack of products that encouraged communication and play between parents and young babies.
When Kathleen approached Doug about starting a business built around the concept of teaching babies to communicate before they can speak, he was more than intrigued. Doug brought his entrepreneurial spirit and experience in the high-tech industry to the world of digital video production just as this technology was emerging to produce the My Baby Can Talk series of videos.
Working with sounds and visuals engineered to engage infants, Doug’s respect for the early intellect of a baby is the overarching design rule for the series. Today Doug works alongside a professional team of editors and production engineers to ensure that all of the Baby Hands Productions products are among the finest in the marketplace.
Kathleen Waidhofer is a dynamic businesswoman who began her career in the software industry at the age of seventeen. By twenty, she had already held the positions of Controller, Applications Consultant and Operations Manager at two software start-ups.
Prior to receiving a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, Kathleen was responsible for creating a new division of software consulting firm, Santa Cruz Computer, and she aided in the launch of Microport Systems, growing the firm from a four-person company to a team of more than fifty. In 1987 she founded her own software consulting company named Flashpoint.
Kathleen’s father John holds a PhD in Linguistics, is the author of more than ten books in the fields of linguistics and psychology, and was a professor of linguistics at UCSC. Her mother had worked as a teacher’s aide and later earned her Master’s degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling.
When her first baby was born, Kathleen refocused her attention from her career to her son, and approached the education of her son with the same passion as she had her business. During this timeframe, Kathleen looked for ways to enhance her son’s life and encourage learning at a very young age. She quickly became familiar with the baby products and toys that captured his attention, and categorized those which aided in educational process and those that did not, noting specific characteristics of each.
With Kathleen’s family history of linguistics and child psychology, it was very frustrating when she could sense that her children were ready to communicate before they had the physical capability for speech. As her first-born son John Conrad became a toddler, Kathleen was committed to finding a more successful way to communicate with her second baby, Jessica. Following a suggestion from her own mother, Kathleen introduced Jessica to American Sign Language (ASL) and enjoyed immediate success.
As a second time mother, Kathleen was amazed by the early bonding and advanced level of understanding that she developed with Jessica through the use of ASL. Because of the reciprocal nature of their relationship, Jessica cried less and was not as frustrated as her peers, or other babies Kathleen had experienced at that age.
Kathleen decided to use her experience in industry development and marketing, her maternal passion and her family background in psychology and linguistics to create a product that could help other families facilitate early bonding and a sense of empowerment for their babies. Thus Baby Hands Productions was born.