Baby sign language can help babies/toddlers communicate before they can talk!
It may even be a bridge to speaking. It may help infants and toddlers develop verbal and writing skills later on in life. Even when they are older, they can sign when they are too upset to talk or when they are flustered.
Signing may reduce temper tantrums!
Baby signing experts believe that sign language can ward off temper tantrums because it gives the child a way to communicate their feelings and desires. Who doesn’t want less want fewer temper tantrums?
It’s easy and fun!
Starting at around six months old, infants can learn the basic signs, such as “milk”, “hungry”, “thirsty”, “toddler”, “more”, “play”, etc. “Joseph Garcia, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, conducted research which showed that babies who are exposed to signs ‘regularly and consistently’ at six to seven months of age can begin to use the signs effectively by their eighth or ninth month”
Improves fine motor skills
Sign language allows your child to practice more fine motor skills. To understand the importance of fine motor skills,
Signing aids bonding because it facilitates more eye-to-eye and tactile contact. You will need to go down to eye level to explain, describe, and name objects/concepts to your child.
Your child will hear even more words!
In order to be consistent with teaching your child signs, you’ll need to repeat the words often and explain details about that object. “There’s a cat. Do you see the cat? The cat has pointy ears, fur, a tail, and four legs. The cat purrs when (s)he is happy.”
Teach your child (and yourself) a second language!
American Sign Language (ASL) is a language, just as English or Japanese is. Imagine the excitement a child who is hearing impaired will have being able to have a new playmate! It is recognised by many universities, colleges, and high school as a foreign language that can fill in the requirement. Note: not all baby signs are ASL, but you can teach your child just ASL and be able to continue it for life. This article is a great introduction to explain why ASL is more ideal to use.
Signing may have psychological benefits, such as improved confidence and self-esteem.
Communication helps a child deal with shyness, and it allows them to have a better relationship with their parents. Being able to be understood and the ability to learn a language increases their confidence and self-esteem. It allows them to feel that they’re thoughts and opinions matter.
How should I teach it?
- Start at 6-8 months old. They should be able to hold your gaze for a few minutes. Really, you can begin teaching signing at any age.
- Start with 3-5 signs. Use eye contact and say the word out loud. Start with signs that are easy to identify, such as “ball” or “mom”.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat! Suggest that other caretakers join in on the signs!
- Pay attention to when your child mimics the signs (usually about 2 months in), and as they make progress add more words!