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Benefits of Baby Sign Language

Posted Feb 24 2012 7:33am

Babies spend most of each day sleeping, eating, and crying. One of the most frustrating things about having a young baby is trying to figure out what is needed when they are crying. While some of their particular cries can be distinguished, it is not always easy to know exactly what your child needs at any given moment, which can be especially frustrating in the middle of the night. There is a growing movement of mothers turning to baby sign language in order to bridge the communication barrier and provide an easier way to understand their babies long before they are able to properly articulate their needs through speech. Sign language is not just for the deaf, and children who use sign language before they can speak reap additional psychological and intellectual benefits as well.

Non-verbal communication is an important part of a child’s early development. There are a variety of styles of baby sign language, but all provide a way for parent and child to communicate with one another. Some parents choose to use a made-up set of signs, while others stick to traditional signs that can later be slightly altered and used in proper American Sign Language. Babies are able to control some hand movements long before they can speak. You can begin introducing sign language at birth, but most babies can best use signs starting around seven months. Teaching your child is simple, just use a sign along with the verbal word each time you say it. Make sure you use the same sign each time you use the word, and be sure to repeat the words/signs often. Repetition is the key to quick learning. Introduce just a couple new signs at any given time and be sure each is introduced in context.

Temper tantrums in young children are often caused by excess frustration due to the inability to verbally express themselves. Learning sign language as a baby helps to cut down on those unwanted tantrums because babies and toddlers have a way to communicate their desires with their parents. A one-sided conversation is an aggravating experience for anyone; using sign language allows children to convey their message, which cuts down on both crying and frustration.

Infants are emotional creatures, laughing and crying, screaming and whimpering to express their many emotions. Having the ability to convey needs and wants through baby sign language is emotionally satisfying. Feelings of anger that are the result of an inability to communicate are not as frequent. Less anger often means fewer incidents of unwanted behavior and habits like biting and hitting. Happy babies will later turn into happier toddlers that are able to properly express themselves. Confidence and self-esteem are also improved through successful interaction and communication with adults.

Many babies who learn to sign end up speaking earlier than non-signing babies, and even those who speak at a normal rate often have an easier time learning language. Signing motivates babies to learn to speak meaningfully. They often have larger vocabularies and become better readers as well, as baby sign language provides a good foundation for early literacy. This is partially due to the fact that signing stimulates more synapses of the brain. Signing babies have also been shown to have slightly higher IQs than those who do not sign. Baby sign language provides a foundation for further learning ASL, meaning your child could fairly easily become bilingual through increased signing skills, which could be very beneficial throughout their childhood and into adulthood as well.

 

Citations:

Olivia Nicholas is a busy mom to twin boys and believes that each child should be given the skills and ability to reach their pull potential.  Olivia is in the invitations business and loves to write and share her parenting experiences with other by writing for  Storkie .

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