Teaching baby sign language to children is one of the hot topics for the last decade, but does it really benefit infants or parents?
While some studies show how sign language increases intellectual development, others highlighted how it decreases frustration for both parents and babies. As per Mayo clinic’s findings, a normal baby can start learning or using baby sign language around eight months. That means long before your babies begin using words, you can teach them sign language, so they can communicate their wants and needs.
So, if you want to teach your baby a sign for “milk”, along with other basic signs but don’t know how to do it, we have you covered here. Keep scrolling down to learn about the benefits of teaching your little one signs for language development.
Does Research Support this idea?
Some teachers and parents expressed concerns regarding teaching infants “baby signs “for language development. One of the concerns was that it might delay the development of verbal language.
However, One study conducted by Acredolo, Goofwyn, and Brown found contradictory results. It showed that children whose parents taught baby signs outperformed the ones who used only vocal language.
It paves the path for further researches theorizing the idea that teaching baby sign language may fuel motivation for several forms of communication. Parents know that if their infant is expressive, he or she likely to feel more active, confident, and happier.
Moreover, the National Institutes of Health found that infants who grow up learning sign language have fewer episodes of temper, tantrums, or crying. Interestingly, many parents report they feel more relaxed and confident when they have an understanding of what their babies need.
It is worth noting that teaching baby sign language to young children is not only simple but also fun. In fact, many recreation districts and libraries offer sign language lessons. However, you don’t need to take classes to get started.
Benefits of Introducing Baby Signs for Language Development
No Tantrums and Frustration
No matter how cute your baby looks throwing tantrums at you, it is not a healthy habit. If your little one cries or screams a lot unnecessarily, it shows that he/she is frustrated. Yes, you read it right. Infants or babies can also get frustrated just like adults, and it usually happens when they feel “unheard”.
Introducing baby sign language is one way you can reduce this frustration. It gives your kid a way to express needs before he/she starts speaking. That means there will be fewer meltdowns and tantrums when your child knows how to communicate constructively. You do not have to feel helpless while trying to console a frustrated baby thinking what he/she wants.
Baby sign language enables babies to communicate their wants. By using signs, they can easily tell you if they’re hungry, want a toy or if their milk is too hot.
Enables Babies to Communicate Earlier than They Develop Speech
As mentioned above, introducing sign language to babies allows them to communicate their needs earlier than they develop speech. You may start teaching sign language from six to seven months of age. Start with essential signs such as "milk”, “all done", more", “eat", "poop", and “sleep”. The words cover the basic concepts and reduce the communication gap and potential frustration.
Provides Psychological Benefit (Better Confidence and Self Esteem)
When your child is able to convey what he /she wants effectively, it not only makes them more confident but also affects your self-esteem positively. It also gives you mental satisfaction that you‘re able to meet your baby’s wants and needs.
Aids in Language Skills and Increases Vocabulary
Many studies show that teaching babies sign language may help them develop a mental process that is important for speaking later in life. Plus, signing also leads to better vocabulary growth. A Murkoff Study conducted in 2003 found that two- year olds who used sign language as babies developed better vocabulary compared to ones who didn’t sign.
Increases Attention Skills
Sign language is a visual language involving attention skills. It plays an important role in children’s life to develop skills for better social interactions.
Strengthens Bonding with Baby
While signing, the baby and parent are talking, touching, laughing, and recognizing the attempts to do things together. These interactions help make an invaluable bond with the baby.
Tips to Introduce Baby Signs
· Start simple and Early
The earlier you start the task, the more beneficial it will be for you and your little bundle of joy. You may start the practice when the baby turns three months old. It would be best to stay consistent until he or she starts signing back.
Consider using some quality websites and sign language books to learn basic signs and choose concrete words such as milk, drink, and ball. Teach only three to five words.
· Act the Signs along with the Verbal Words
This may take a little more effort as children need constant and clear reinforcement to learn different signs. You need to be more active to show what you want your child to repeat. Try modeling the signs with clear actions multiple times to make sure your kid can learn them without much hassle.
· Allow the Baby to progress slowly
Patience and consistency is the key to success when it comes to teaching your baby sign language. Avoid rushing and letting your baby set the pace. Keep in mind that your goal is not to make your baby fluent in sign language. It would also help if you taught your child a way to communicate until his or her verbal skills develop.
· Keep the Learning Process Fun
Make sure your lessons are fun and brief. The purpose of introducing sign language is to alleviate frustration and simplify communication with your baby meaningfully.
There is no need to spend hours trying to figure out why your child is distraught. Baby Sign language can help both you and your little one address the cause of frustration and tantrums, while allowing you to spend quality time with your baby.