Why Teach Sign Language to Your Baby and Toddler?

Long before a baby can speak, he/ she can think and has the ability to understand language.

Communication is the cornerstone of socialization and sign language allows early communication.

Experts seem to agree on a few things:

  1. During the first few years of life, a child’s brain wires itself for tasks such as talking, reading, and problem-solving.This process starts at birth.
  2. Long before a baby can speak, he/ she can think and has the ability to understand language.
  3. Babies can communicate with hand signs much sooner than they can master verbal skills. He has the motor skills to use sign language before his vocal cords are mature enough to form words.
  4. Babies normally say a few words between the tenth and twelfth months. More complex language skills are developed around 18 months. Sign language enables communication to start at least six months before most babies have the ability to speak basic words.
  5. A baby who has been taught sign language can have a vocabulary as large as 75 words by the time she is nine months old. This compares to 10-12 words for even the brightest baby of that age who has not had the advantage of learning sign language.
  6. The period between 15 and 20 months is particularly frustrating for a baby who has a limited vocabulary. Although both boys and girls can have limited verbal vocabulary at that age, it is more often boys who have few spoken words until after their second birthday. Maybe the terrible twos would be less terrible if children could better communicate their wants and needs.

The Benefits of Teaching Baby Sign Language

Briefly, then, the benefits of teaching a baby to sign are:

  • Children with baby sign language seem to get a head start on communication.
  • Reciprocal communication between parent and infant through sign language relieves frustrations for both.
  • Babies or toddlers who learn sign language seem to have more words at their command than other children–even through the age of three.
  • Your baby or toddler can communicate with other babies who sign–it’s incredible to see two toddlers signing.

It is not surprising that it works. After all, when people speaking different languages try to communicate, they often resort to using gestures just to understand each other in basic ways. Why not babies, too?

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

Don’t spend a fortune on books and videos for sign language products before you have experience. The truth is that sign language is not hard to learn for you or for your baby. I would only purchase two, possibly three, sign language items.

My recommendations for teaching your baby sign language:

1. Dr. Joseph Garcia authored the classic in the sign language field: Sign With Your Baby.

Buy the video only or buy a kit which contains the video, a short and simple to understand book, plus a chart showing the signs.

The sign language video is a must for the section on teaching sign language and the last section which demonstrates American Sign Language words. I would buy the kit to get the accompanying sign language book unless you buy the CD Pick Me Up at the same time. That CD includes a workbook.One sign language book is probably enough although both of these sign language books have their positive and different attributes.

2. At the same time I would add the music CD Pick Me Up for the signing and singing as well as the excellent sign language workbook for parents. This fun, interactive experience for you and your baby is all it normally takes to rapidly add words to your American Sign Language vocabulary.

3. If at any time you or your babies are having problems learning sign language, purchase Baby See N Sign, Volume I. It presents American Sign Language words three different times: as a still picture, in slow motion, and at normal video speed.

Frankly, I believe the above three items are all the sign language products you need to own.

Why purchase any sign language items? Why not use the library for your sign language needs?

You probably need at least one sign language product on hand for reference. A CD of music to sign by teaches sign language daily. Plus your baby can watch a sign language video like Baby See N Sign to supplement your own signing.

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