Learn to Communicate With Your Baby Using Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language helps parents understand their kids

baby sign language

As parents, we face the difficult decision about how much screen time is appropriate for our baby or toddler. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics revised their screen time guidelines. AAP's new guidelines state that media is part of child development and should be viewed as another environment in which kids learn about the world. For me, sometimes television is necessary so I can jump in the shower or unload the dishwasher.

I still feel guilty sitting my son in front of a screen so I can accomplish my daily tasks. When my son was very small, a family member with an older child recommended baby sign language so I started looking into it.

Baby Sign Language helps babies and toddlers communicate using manual signs, most taken from American Sign Language. Using signs allows babies and toddlers to verbalize their needs. Studies have found that using signs may produce a larger vocabulary, advanced mental development, and advanced comprehension. Using sign language may reduce aggression and problematic behavior because the child is better able to express their needs. It may also help decrease the child's frustration and improve parent-child relationships because parents are more responsive and observant of their child. Babies can learn simple signs such as “eat,” “sleep," "more," "hug," "play" and "milk.” Each individual may develop the ability to sign at various stages in his/her growth.

Baby sign language teaches babies and toddlers to communicate before they can talk.

Scientific studies show that “typical” children who learn to sign as babies:

  • have higher IQ scores than those who do not sign
  • tend to be better adjusted socially
  • tend to read at an earlier age

Many parents who utilize baby sign language find that by learning to communicate at an earlier age the “terrible twos” are not so terrible.

Children can use a sign instead of throwing a tantrum to express their needs and wants.

I learned a few basic signs, such as "more" and "all done:" and used baby sign language with my son as early as 6 months. Around 10 months, I showed him the Signing Time! videos and he was immediately engaged and excited by them. Once I saw how much he was learning, I no longer felt guilty showing him Signing Time!, the baby sign language videos as I tidied up my apartment. I would then copy the signs for him in our daily interactions and routines.

Signing Time is targeted towards children aged one through eight. Signing Time’s multi-sensory approach encourages learning through three senses (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) and reaches children with different learning styles and abilities by encouraging interaction through signing, singing, speaking, movement and dancing.

The series is led by Rachel Coleman, her daughter Leah, Leah's cousin Alex, and Hopkins, an animated frog. The series teaches signs for everyday words, questions, phrases, movements, activities colors, sports, days of the week, objects, and activities. Signing Time is used widely by educators, pediatricians, home-schoolers, speech therapists, public schools, daycare centers, libraries, and families.

 Whether used by a pre-verbal infant, a non-verbal child with disabilities, or a family who simply wants to learn ASL as a second language, signing has become an important part of American culture.

My son is now a happy, engaged and verbal two year old who still loves watching Signing Time!. At a young age, he was able to sign when he wanted "more milk," when he was feeling "sleepy" or when he was "all done." Teaching baby sign language made my job as a parent less frustrating and more enjoyable.

Signing Time! can be rented or purchased on The Signing Time Store and Amazon.

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