Benefits of Teaching Your Baby to Sign

Front on Picture of a Toddler signing the ASL sign "more"

Baby Signing More in American Sign Language

There’s nothing cuter than watching little babies trying to communicate through sign language.

Baby sign language has grown in popularity in the past few years, as it provides more bonding time between parents and the baby and also gives the child some communication skills earlier.

The Learning Process

The best time for a baby to start signing is between four and eight months old. However, the baby won’t be able to sign back till they develop motor skills around 6 to 8 months. And remember that these ages are just starting points. Your child might not learn to sign and speak until age 12 months or even later.

It’s better to start out with a few familiar words like milk, more, daddy, mommy and eat, since these are common actions and the people that the baby interacts with every day.

The single most important aspect to successful signing is repetition.The more often you sign the word when you say it, the higher are the chances of him or her signing it back.

While it’s acceptable to use signs that you make up instead of the official American Sign Language, there’s actually no need for parents to do this. There are sufficient videos and book materials available online to use. There is also an “ASL for babies” dictionary available online, with video clips of adults signing.

Signing Will NOT Delay Speech

Some parents are hesitant to teach their babies to sign as they think it delays speech. However, this is a misconception. Sign language is just another means of activating the language development areas in your baby’s brain.

Benefits of Baby Signing

Higher IQ levels: Research has proven that baby signing has educational benefits. A study involving two groups of children, with one group taught baby signing and another group not taught, showed that the eight-year olds who had learned baby sign language fared better on IQ tests than their counterparts who hadn’t learned the language.

Fewer tantrums: As babies can get their message across, this leads to their pulling fewer tantrums. Their wants and needs are fulfilled because their parents understand what the babies want to say.

While teaching sign language will help both babies and parents, parents should remember that it’s not a magic wand. Verbal communication is equally important for a baby’s emotional development. Babies should be given high-quality interaction time along with signing, so that parents make sure they respond to all the baby’s communication attempts.

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