What is Baby Sign Language?
Baby sign language is a simplified version of the sign language used in your country. Here we use ASL (American Sign Language). When you go to a new country that speaks a different language most likely you will try to learn a few phrases and words to survive the trip. Baby sign language is just like that, its not the whole sign language, its just phrases to help you understand your baby's needs. Learning how to sign can help prevent the frustration you may encounter if your baby is crying and you can't figure out why. Signing allows your baby to communicate with you.
Babies can sign at a very early age, as early as 6 months in some cases. This means you can start "talking" to your baby much sooner and gain a much closer relationship. Babies don't start using words until 1 year, on average, and even then their vocabulary is very limited.
Imagine living in a country where you don't know the language, you may be very frustrated if you have thoughts and questions you want to share but can't because you don't know the language. Sign language helps alleviate the communication barrier between you and your baby.
Signing can increase your baby's vocabulary.
~A study showed that signing babies aged 36 months on average spoke at a 47 month old level, almost one year ahead of their time.
~It helps them learn more words quicker because they see the word, hear the word, and can "do" the word.
Signing increases IQ
~In a study comparing children who signed as babies and children who didn't, the 8 year olds who signed scored, on average, in the 75th percentile and those who didn't scored, on average, in the 58th percentile.
Signing helps you understand your baby.
Signing gives you insight into your child's mind and what she is thinking.
Signing prevents frustration between baby and parent.
When to Start?
If you begin signing from birth expect your baby to start signing as early as 6 months. A good time to start signing is around 6 months because the baby will be able to form the signs with her hand. If you start around 6 months expect to see her signing anywhere from 8 months to 10 months. Older babies pick up signs quicker and may learn them in a few weeks (one year olds).
How to Start?
Start with just a few signs (5-10) and add more as you get comfortable with them.
When signing you should get down to your baby's level and in her field of vision.
Always say the word while using the sign.
Always sign in context so your baby understands the sign.
To help, I incorporate the sign into my daily routines. This helps to remind you to keep using the signs too. For diaper change I say the word and sign before changing her, during, and after. This also helps her to understand what is going on.
I have been signing with my daughter off and on since she was about 2 months and she has just now learned one sign (for milk) at 6 and a half months! It takes a long time so don't get give up if your baby doesn't sign right away. It's also important to note that your baby could be signing without you knowing it. They do their versions of the sign and it might not look exactly like the right version right away. Just keep practicing and it will pay off!!
Learn signs for your baby for free here!!
Baby Sign Language