But Surely There Are Situations Where Signing Is Easier Than Speaking
I think thats very likely. For example, the ASL sign for spider looks a lot like a spider. Its iconic, which may make it easier for babies to decipher. And it might be easier for babies to produce the gesture than to speak the English word, spider, which includes tricky elements, like the blended consonant sp.
The same might be said for the ASL signs for elephant and deer.
But most ASL signs arent iconic, and, as I explain here, some gestures can be pretty difficult for babies to reproduce just as some spoken words can be difficult to pronounce.
So its unlikely that a baby is going to find one mode of communication easier across the board.
When Do Babies Stop Signing
When children who use signs begin to speak, they usually begin to slow or stop their use of signs in favor of speaking. Children will naturally drop the signs when they dont need them anymore. If the parent wants the child to continue signing, the parent will need to make signing a part of the continued, natural use of language in the home.
Not quite ready to join a class? A set of Words by the Handful books is a great way to get started on your own!
Are There Negative Effects Of Baby Sign Language
I get asked a lot if using baby sign language will cause a speech delay and the answer is no.
Learning spoken language and sign language is actually very similar.
Using baby signs will help encourage the precursor skills needed for spoken words as well as end some of the frustration your little one may have from not being able to communicate.
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More Please Speaking Sign Language With Your Baby
While knowing sign language is common for those with hearing and speech impairments, teaching a few key signs to your baby, regardless of how well he or she can hear, can make quite a difference in communication. Baby sign language is not just for child prodigies or parents with hours of extra time on their hands. Babies as young as 6 to 8 months can communicate with signs even before they learn to talk, making it easier for caregivers to understand their needs, helping their vocal speech development and boosting their cognitive growth.
Families Can Communicate Quite Successfully Without Using Formal Baby Signs
For example, consider this snapshot of a baby making the sign for more, borrowed from ASL.
Its a perfectly useful sign, and many babies have learned it. But what happens if you dont teach your baby this sign?
Will your baby be incapable of letting you know that he wants more applesauce? Will your baby somehow fail to get across the message that she wants to play another round of peek-a-boo?
When parents pay attention to their babies and engage them in conversation, one-on-one they learn to read their babies cues.
A baby might pat the table when he wants more applesauce. A baby might reach out and smile when she wants to play with you. They arent signs borrowed from a language like ASL, but, in context, their meaning is clear.
When we respond appropriately to these spontaneous gestures, we are engaged in successful communication, and we are helping our babies build the social skills they need to master language.
That doesnt mean there is no reason to teach formal signs. You might find that some signs are helpful that they allow for communication that is otherwise difficult for your baby.
But its wrong to think of formal signs as the only gestures that matter. From the very beginnings of humanity, parents and babies have communicated by gesture. And research suggests that gestures matter. A lot!
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Why Start Baby Sign Language At Six Months
At 6 months of age, the size of a babys memory is getting large enough for them to begin to assimilate signs. Thats one reason why I suggest thats a good age to start baby sign language. The uptake of signs will be a little easier for them at 6 months than earlier.
Another reason 6 months is often suggested as a starting time has to do with the return on investment/feedback loop. The earlier parents begin signing with their babies, the longer the parents will have to wait before baby begins to sign back. This is because babies need to develop a certain level of motor skill to be able to make the signs with their hands. Like many things in early childhood, waiting can be frustrating and discouraging, and Ive seen some parents give up before their kids begin to sign back. Baby sign language is a very rewarding and nurturing tool, so I encourage parents to pick the time frame that helps signing work best for them.
The sign for deer.
Baby Is Already Signing And You Are Failing To Identify & Respond
We see this more frequently than we care to mention. Parents, caregivers and educators fail to observe baby closely and identify progress in the form of attempts to mimic signs and movement. Because babies have limited fine motor skills their first signs may not be of textbook quality. It is up to you the parent to closely observe micro-movements and gestures that happen in response to visuals and voice associations. For example your baby may try to open and close their hand when you say the word milk. Count these small but consistent attempts as signs resting assured that baby will eventually refine their movements.
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Teaching Sign Language To Babies And Toddlers: Myths Truths And Benefits
Cholee has worked in childcare for over ten years and has taken several early childhood development classes.
Baby sign language has been around for decades however, it has just recently started to become more popular. Teaching sign language to infants and toddlers has been largely controversial and debated among professionals and parents as to whether it is actually beneficial to the child.
We will discuss:
- five myths about teaching sign language to babies,
- tips to get you started, and
- the benefits and advantages young children will obtain from learning and using sign language on a regular and daily basis.
And The Social And Emotional Benefits Is There Evidence That Baby Signing Reduces Frustration Or Stress
Individual families might experience benefits. But without controlled studies, its hard to know if its really learning to sign that makes the difference.
Its also hard to know if the effect is general something most families would experience if they tried it.
To date, claims about stress arent well-supported. One study found that parents enrolled in a signing course felt less stressed afterwards, but this study didnt measure parents stress levels before the study began, so we cant draw conclusions .
Nevertheless, there are hints that signing may help some parents become more attuned to what their babies are thinking.
In the study led by Elizabeth Kirk, the researchers found that mothers who had been instructed to use baby signs behaved differently than mothers in the control group. The signing mothers tended to be more responsive to their babies nonverbal cues, and they were more likely to encourage independent exploration .
So perhaps baby signing encourages parents to pay extra attention when they communicate. Because they are consciously trying to teach signs, they are more likely to scrutinize their babies nonverbal signals.
As a result, some parents might become better baby mind-readers than they might otherwise have been, and thats a good thing. Being tuned into your babys thoughts and feelings helps your baby learn faster.
And this begs the question: Does teaching your baby signs necessarily give you more insight into what your baby wants?
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Does Baby Sign Language Delay Speech
Many parents often come to me and say they want to start teaching baby sign language, but theyre afraid that it will delay speech. This is a myth! Baby sign language is not a replacement for speech, but merely an extra. Its an exciting way to get your child communicating early.
You should always pair the word with the sign, to show your baby that speaking and signing are both important.
Signing Time Dvds: Learning Made Fun
Baby Sign Language DVDs teach your baby to sign while keeping them entertained. This Emmy Award nominated program, teaches all the basics in a fun musical format. Your baby will learn:
- Food Signs never miss when they are hungry, thirsty, want more or are all done
- Utility Signs skip tantrums and understand when they are too hot, too cold, or need a diaper change
- Family Signs greet grandma and grandpa
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The Only 8 Signs You Need To Teach Your Baby
Introducing a few hand signs can encourage babies to communicate, as well as improve parents ability to understand what they’re trying to say. Plus, baby sign language can cut back on frustration-related crying, which is good for everybody.
OK, is your baby saying dog? Or is it Dad? And how do you know if theyre trying to tell you they want more mashed sweet potato or want to get down from their high chair? Trying to decipher your babys first words and early communication cues can be tricky. Enter baby sign language:
How To Teach Basic Baby Sign Language
The good news is that learning baby sign language and teaching it to your little one isn’t that difficult, though the process will require consistent effort, lots of repetition, and patience on your part.Here are some tips for teaching baby sign language to your baby:
For more on how to teach your little one baby sign language, consult your childâs healthcare provider, who may recommend a book or online course on the subject. There may even be classes at your local community center.
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Baby Sign Language Basics: When To Start And How To Teach It
All new parents have felt the frustration of trying to figure out what exactly their baby needs. But until a baby speaks her first words, communication is mostly limited. Enter baby sign language, a method of teaching simple gestures for the things they need and suddenly, a whole new world may open up for both babies and parents.
How To Teach Sign Language To Your Toddler
According to Jann Fujimoto, CCC-SLP, a certified speech-language pathologist in Wisconsin, the best time to start teaching your baby sign language is between the age of 4 to 6 months.
Theres no extra effort required on your part to introduce your baby to sign language. All you need to do is use gestures whenever you use common words with your child. Keep it simple and be consistent, so whenever you hand over a bottle of milk to your child, use the gesture for milk and say the word milk.
You can pick up any word and sign first, but make sure to say it aloud when showing the sign. Adilen Figueroa, who takes a Sign, Say, and Play class in Hartford, Connecticut, proposes parents to start with mealtime signs since babies eat multiple times a day. Most of them are even excited by food as they begin to branch out into a variety of solids.
Each child is different, and thus the grasping ability of each also tends to vary. Don’t be discouraged if your child takes more time be patient and demonstrate the words repeatedly until the child picks up. A baby typically starts making signs on her own by the time shes about 6 to 9 months. And once the toddler starts using gestures, it will surely be a treat to watch prepare yourself to respond.
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Which Basic Baby Sign Language Signs Should You Start With
Now that you know when you can teach your baby to sign, its time to think about what you should teach them to sign. Thankfully, the internet is full of baby sign language tutorials that are easy to follow. And there are quite a few books on the subject, as well as classes, if thats something you and your child would enjoy.
Baby sign language is all about keeping things simple, so you wont be teaching your baby complicated sentences. Instead, youll want to pick the words that you and your family use the most when talking to your baby. Some of the most useful signs are for words like milk, hungry, more, yes, no, play, mom, and dad. But if your baby seems to enjoy signing, you can definitely expand their vocabulary even further with signs for animals and even simple phrases like I love you.
For instance, if you want to show your baby how to sign please, all you need to do is hold your hand flat and then rub it in a circle pattern on your chest. And if you want to get a jumpstart on teaching them to say thank you, just touch your fingers to your chin and then pull them away with your palm facing up.
Get The Kit & Sign Smarter
The Baby Sign Language Kits, bundle together everything you need to get started with signing in one box, at a steep discount. The premium kit includes: Baby Sign Language DVDs & CDs, Baby Sign Language Guide Book Baby Sign Language Dictionary: Baby Sign Language Flash Cards and Baby Sign Language Wall Chart.
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Can Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Promote Or Delay Speech
There isnât enough evidence yet to prove that baby sign language can help promote language development , literacy, or cognitive skills. However, there is a chance that it can benefit those babies who have developmental delays.Continuing to talk to your baby while also signing is important so your baby doesnât fall behind in speech development.Contact your babyâs healthcare provider for personalized guidance on whether baby sign language is right for your little one.
My Baby Isn’t Signing Back Is Something Wrong
Don’t be discouraged when your baby doesn’t sign back right away or seem to react at all when you sign. Just like it takes time for babies to say their first words, they need time to observe and internalize signs before attempting to make signs themselves.
Your baby’s first try at signing will not likely look exactly like the sign either. Be on the lookout for waves of the hand that may be attempts at signing, and offer lots of encouragement.
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Are There Any Cons
Not really! Baby sign language has not been found to cause speech or language delays, just to give children another way to communicate during their speech development, which reduces everyones frustration.
And thats the beauty of baby sign language. It facilitates communication between you and your child, helps with speech development, and can be discontinued once the words start coming which will typically become your childs preferred means of communication.
One word of caution with baby sign language: dont forget to keep talking! The signs are not meant to replace words, but to represent spoken words used naturally along with the signs. Baby sign language itself doesnt cause a speech delay but failing to talk to your baby might. Sometimes parents get so focused on the signs and making them properly, they forget to speak to their child. Thats defeating the purpose! If you find yourself fixated on the signing, slow down and refocus on speech development. Refer back to Ten Simple Strategies to Help Your Baby Develop Speech and just make baby sign language another strategy!
What Are The Benefits Of Signing With Babies
Above all, speaking sign language with your baby is a great way to connect in a way you can both understand. It develops a closer bond, Dr. Foxen says. Between infancy and the toddler stage, your child is going through rapid cognitive and emotional development. Sign language has been shown to reduce crying and fussiness during this stage because the baby can clearly communicate her needs, even without words. There is less frustration, especially for the child, when he can communicate his wants and needs, Dr. Foxen adds.
While some may be concerned that teaching a baby sign language may delay their verbal speech abilities, studies have suggested the opposite is true. Research funded by the National Institutes of Health found sign language can actually facilitate vocal communication in babies and toddlers. Its an easier transition because they already have this communication foundation they can build on, Dr. Foxen says. Keep in mind that the act of signing a word, for hearing children, is meant to complement, not replace, verbal language.
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Web Resources & Videos
Ready to get started? Id really recommend this 1-hour intro course to get you going! It is not something heavy or lengthy, but a great way to get started. And it covers baby signing from 2 months to 3 years!
In addition to learning material you buy, you should of course also check out the free resources around the web if you want to learn more. Youtube has a lot of good material these days.
In addition, you are likely to be able to find pictures of specific signs in your country, as well as forums to discuss baby signing, classes to attend, books, and more.
To get started, have look at the videos for baby sign language here below. Good luck!!