Table of Contents
- What is Baby Sign Language?
- How Do You Teach Baby Sign Language?
- How Long Does It Take for A Baby to Learn Baby Sign Language?
- At What Age Can Babies Learn Baby Sign Language?
- What Are the Benefits of a Baby Learning Baby Sign Language?
- Can It Be Harmful for a Baby to Learn Baby Sign Language?
- What Are the Most Important Signs in Baby Sign Language?
In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about baby sign language, with many people debating its benefits or potential drawbacks. But do you know what it is? We’re going to give you all the information that you need so that you can decide if you want to teach your child baby sign language. Let’s get started.
What is Baby Sign Language?
Baby sign language is quite simply a form of communication that allows a baby to express themselves without words. It relies upon a set of hand gestures that represent certain words, feelings, or emotions. Baby sign language is commonly taught to babies before they can speak, as it allows a child to communicate with adults and older children. This means that they can tell you what they need, making frustration and anger at not getting what they want less likely.
Baby sign language is not as complex as American Sign Language or British Sign Language, which are used for communication by people who suffer from certain sensory impairments, such as deafness or muteness. This is because baby sign language is used primarily for the child to describe what they need or what’s bothering them. This is rather than it being used to have in-depth conversations, which is what ASL and BSL can be used for, as they are complete non-verbal languages.
How Do You Teach Baby Sign Language?
There are several methods for teaching baby sign language. Ideally, if you intend to teach your child this form of communication, then you should invest in some materials to do so. There are lots of great books around that easily explain how to teach your child baby sign language. They also feature a complete list of signs. It’s also possible to enroll for a course online or to watch videos with experts in the field, showing you how to teach your child baby sign language.
There are, of course, some simple methods that you can use. One option is to start with easy words and actions that your child knows well, such as ‘milk.’ You can teach your child the sign for this word by saying it, making the sign, and then pointing at the object, such as a bottle of milk. Your child isn’t going to get it on the first go. But the more you repeat it, the better the chances are that they will understand the significance of what you’re saying, and then pick up the sign.
While you’re teaching baby sign language to your child, you may notice that their signs are different from what you’re attempting to teach them, but this isn’t necessarily an issue. In fact, if you notice that your baby is repeatedly using their own sign, but still makes the correct connections between that sign and a word or action, then that’s a good thing.
The sign that your child makes is the important one, not the one that’s in the manual to baby sign language that you’ve got. As long as your child is consistent, then it doesn’t matter how the sign looks. Never try to correct your child’s sign so that it perfectly resembles what is ‘standard.’ Instead, try to replicate your child’s sign. Note it down so that you don’t forget what it means, and continue to use this sign going forward.
Consistency is a hugely important factor when it comes to teaching your child new signs. If you make a sign one way one day and another way on another day, then your child won’t be able to imitate you because you’re changing what you’re doing. Repeating the exact same gesture over and over, day after day, in exactly the same manner is the only way that your child will be able to pick up the sign and mimic it themselves.
It’s also important that you don’t try to push your child too quickly. Your baby isn’t likely to pick up baby sign language if you shout at them or chide them for not learning the sign, or if you make it differently to how you have shown them. It’ll take time, but it will be worth it in the end.
How Long Does It Take for A Baby to Learn Baby Sign Language?
It will depend on the baby. It can take a few months for your child to start signing back at you. Baby sign language takes some patience. But it’ll be worth it when you start getting feedback from your child, and you realize they’ve learned what you’ve been teaching them.
At What Age Can Babies Learn Baby Sign Language?
Once again, it will depend on the child, but usually, it’s at around the eight or nine-month mark that babies start to communicate with the people around them. As soon as you start to notice these signals, then you should begin signing to your child. It can take some time for them to sign back. But as long as you persevere, your child will learn baby sign language and be communicating with you after a month or two.
What Are the Benefits of a Baby Learning Baby Sign Language?
There’s a lot of research gone into baby sign language as to its benefits and drawbacks. Generally, experts are positive about baby sign language, and that’s because of the following benefits:
It allows your baby to communicate with the world around them before they can speak. This means that your child can express themselves without any misunderstandings. The knock-on effect is that your child is less likely to become frustrated or angry, meaning that they will be calmer as a result.
The ability to communicate with your child means that the two of you will be able to bond and become closer. No longer will you look at your kid and wonder, ‘What are you thinking about? Why are you sad?’ Instead, you can simply ask, and your child will be able to tell you what they want or feel via baby sign language. This can also make you feel more relaxed as you don’t have to struggle to work out why your child is upset.
Some research has proven that the ability to communicate via baby sign language can improve a baby’s cognitive ability, giving them an IQ boost that can permanently make your child smarter.
They are learning something at a very young age, which is great, and there is evidence that learning baby sign language can actually make it easier for a baby to learn how to talk. And some research has shown that children who have learned baby sign language go on to have a larger vocabulary.
Can It Be Harmful for a Baby to Learn Baby Sign Language?
The biggest potential drawback to baby sign language is that a child who can communicate through signs may not have the same motivation when it comes to learning how to talk, as they are already able to express themselves via the baby sign language. But most experts agree that this isn’t the case. There’s no evidence that a child who signs becomes less inclined to learn how to talk. The signs are usually combined with a vocal cue. Your child takes this in, making connections between the word, the sign, and the action that they represent.
Most scientists believe that baby sign language is either beneficial or benign for your child to learn. That means that your child will benefit long-term out of learning baby sign language, or they will develop at the same rate as children who do not learn baby sign language. There is no evidence that baby sign language can have a detrimental effect upon your child’s development.
What Are the Most Important Signs in Baby Sign Language?
The most important sign in baby sign language is the one that your child uses to express themselves most at that moment. But the basic signs that parents tend to start with are for the things that dominate your child’s life during their first year.
- All Done.
- Pick Me Up.
- Change Diaper.
These are great words to start with. You’ll be amazed at just how much these simple nine signs can transform the way that you interact with your child. Instead of needing to guess if your child wants to be picked up, for example, then you’ll be told. It can bring you much closer together. And it can also get rid of a lot of misunderstandings, and that means fewer tantrums.
Baby sign language is a wonderful way for parents to communicate with their children before the baby can talk. There are so many benefits to baby sign language. But the most important is the ability for your child to express themselves. They can tell you exactly what’s going on inside them, and that makes for a more relaxed baby, as well as a chilled parent, too.