Baby Sign Language: Is it Worth it?

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Before I was a mother, I was introduced to baby sign language when I babysat for another family. They had a little boy who I babysat for occasionally and he was able to do a few signs. The ones I remember were: more, cup, and milk, and I’m sure there were more. I was amazed at it because I had never heard of teaching your baby sign language. I thought it was a pretty cool idea because what better way to communicate with a baby who can’t talk yet!
Baby Sign Language
Reicher | Dollar Photo Club

Will You Teach Your Baby Sign Language?

Believe it or not, I do know some things about sign language. My grandparents on my mother’s side are deaf and so growing up my brothers and I knew some signs so we communicate with them. I knew the entire alphabet and other simples signs like “yes” and “no”. As I grew older I learned more signs but did not use them that much because my grandparents could read lips. I remember watching my mom communicate with them, moving her hands about so fast, and I wished I could do that too.

Now that I am a mother, I hear a lot more about baby sign language and teaching your baby signs. I am faced with the decision whether or not I will teach Adam some baby signs or not. In my head I have been through the pros and cons, and while there are not really many cons, I still am not convinced that everyone must teach their baby sign language.

I love the fact that if your teach you baby signs they will be able to communicate with you before he can even talk. But what if when he finally learns to talk, he does not want to because he is so used to signing or would rather sign? Is teaching your baby sign language worth the time and effort when it will only be used for a short time? These are some of my thoughts and I am still on the fence about whether or not I will decide to do it. What about you? Do you plan on teaching your baby sign language? How do you feel about baby sign language?

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  1. I have quite a few friends who use baby sign language and it helps when they're young and can't communicate as well. They love it! I'm not a mom, but I think I would like to use it when I have kids.

  2. I want to use it!

    It is real sign language- I like that fact.

    You will have to wean them from only using it- just like many other things children need. I think it's exciting.

  3. I, personally, love the idea of teaching Isaac to sign. I've always wanted to learn anyway, so this would be an excuse for me to actually pick it up (somewhat). I don't really see any harm in it, but I don't think it should be a requirement or anything. I think the decision to teach your children is solely up to the parents.

  4. Our son does know some signs and it has been a tremendous help. At very young ages it is nice being able to understand what they want without a huge meltdown. In our case it has also been helpful since our son has apraxia and needs different forms of communication besides speaking.

    My sister is a deaf educator and has explained that signing does not prevent your child from speaking. Statistics have even shown that babies that sign have a larger vocabulary at younger ages than those children who did not sign.

    Just food for thought.

  5. A good friend of mine has taught all of her children to sign (she has 7…although the youngest is only 3 months), she started it because her oldest was speech delayed and because of that a lot of tantrums were happening because he couldn't express what he wanted/needed. Sign language has proven to not delay speech, if anything helps and also helps head off tantrums because toddlers are able to express what they want/need because even if they can't express what it is in words, they can with their hands. We taught Emma very basic signs and will be teaching Noah even more.

  6. i have friends who taught their little boy signs and it worked great i dont remember him having any trouvl learning to talk. hes four now and axtually has an incredible vocabulary. but they always saidvthe word aloud as they signed it so as he learned to speak it was normal for him to do both since thats what everyone around him did. …

  7. I taught my daughter a few signs starting when she was around 7 months old. I felt they were a huge benefit because she could communicate what she wanted before she started talking. However, now at 17 months old she rarely uses signs anymore and she is VERY advanced verbally. People usually guess she's 2-3 instead of under a year and a half, partly because of her height, partly because of how much she talks and how easily she is understood. In our case, signing was great and it didn't slow her down verbally one bit, but you know what's right for your family so trust your instinct!

  8. Thanks for the post! I am not a Mom but I have thought about using this a few times when that time does come!

  9. I nannied for years before having my own child, and all of them used sign language. And all of them were talking up a storm very early in life! I researched it myself, and found that most research states that children that use sign language actually talk sooner and better than other children!

    Now that I have my own child… I didnt use it. And I am now really really wishing I had. Because I now have an almost 2 year old who gets so angry and frustrated when he doesnt know how to communicate something.

  10. I definitely think that baby sign language is worth it. I'm not a mom but like others, I have observed families that use sign language and it seems sooo helpful. Lots of fits and tantrums I've seen avoided because their baby could show them what they needed or wanted!

  11. I agree with the others. Quite a few of the families I baby-sit for used sign language with their babies, and it never hindered their speech.

  12. I worked with deaf children through high school and college, but have since lost a lot of my singing abilities. You really have to use it or loose it to stay totally fluent. I do not believe that baby singing would delay speaking. Mostly because baby sing is simple words such as 'more', 'mommy', 'daddy', etc. If you were fully 'speaking' sign to your baby, then I would venture a guess that it would be the same as raising a multi-lingual child and may delay speach. However, I read that baby sign can be very beneficial in terms of early communication. I'm not sure if we will use it will our little one, since we will be raising her bilingual. Time will tell! Best of luck!

  13. I've been thinking of teaching LB sign language. If we do we'll always say the word while we sign so hopefully he'll say and sign when he is able. I have that same concern.

  14. I'm not a mom, but my mother is a sign language interpreter and deaf educator and as others have said, research proves that children who learn sign language actually have a much larger vocabulary, and learn to talk earlier. It doesn't delay speech. From my own experience, I was a pre-school teacher and had a 1 1/2 year old little boy who had almost no verbal skills. He threw tantrums all the time, acted out and was known as the "bad" kid in class for a variety of reasons. Completely on a whim I decided to start doing sign language with him and the results were almost immediate. He picked it up VERY quickly, and because he learned how to communicate better, his bad behavior stopped completely. He also started talking shortly after starting sign language. So that experience alone has proven to me that its very helpful and beneficial!

  15. We used it with both of our boys and it really was awesome! I loved the fact that they could communicate with me even before they could verbalize what they needed/wanted.
    This was especially helpful with my 2nd as he really didn't do discernable speaking until he was 2. My first was a motor-mouth from 9 months on and hasn't slowed down yet~and he's five! :-))

  16. I'm late responding to this post, but my son learned some sign language before he could talk. We had a wonderful dvd called, "My Baby Can Talk: First Signs." My son did a great job with it and actually liked it. He still asks to watch it to this day.

    I don't think that sign language can hurt your child, only help.

  17. there are a lot of misconceptions about it-mainly that teaching infants sign language will delay language. but there is no evidence and if anything, there is research that shows the contrary. we taught bella starting at around 6 months, and she knows about 5 signs. at 13 months, she has 8 words she says, not including mama and dada (which don't really count.) also, there is plenty of evidence that shows babies learn language skills through songs and play with hand gestures, learning to identify the words by the gesture, and then to say the word.

    signing isn't to replace language, it's to help give a word to something they can't physically say. so if anything, it will aid in development. and reduce tantrums because, before they can say the word, they can sign it to communicate what they want. if you think about it, babies sign all the time by pointing and grabbing for things. =)

    but, at the same time, NOT teaching doesn't hinder them. this is not one of those cases where, choosing one or the other is detrimental.

  18. Some friends of mine taught their children sign language, but not so that they could communicate with them before they could talk. They taught them sign language early on so they would know it. Their approach was to wait until their chilren learned to say that word and use it on a regular basis, then they would teach them the sign that went with that word. While I never did that with my children, it's not a bad idea.

  19. My mom is deaf so it was a no brainer for me to use sign language with my babies from birth. Language acquisition at an early age just increases their sponge-like minds in seeking out MORE language. All three of my children excelled in both signing and speaking at the age of 1 year and also at 2 years. When you talk to CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults) they will tell you a similar experience of having an aptitude for language. Children want to do what those around them can do, so naturally they will want to speak and signing will not become a barrier to verbal language. I teach parents how to sign with their babies and regularly given feedback from parents about how MUCH their child talks compared to peers. Giving our babies a way to express their thoughts is a sweet gift. I am curious if you did end up signing with your baby?

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