Teaching sign language to babies is growing in popularity by the minute. Parents are showing babies as young as six months old how to ask for what they want, and by nine months, many babies are communicating with simple hand motions. Books, DVDs, and websites give both parent and baby the information they need to talk through sign language. Does it work?
Picture this: My nine-month-old sits in his highchair. I’m feeding him oatmeal and banana mush for breakfast. He reaches up and yanks off his bib, then hands it to me. Normally, this is his personal sign language for “Get thee back with thine breakfast mush. I have finished.” But today, he does the sign for “more,” something we’ve been working on. Confused, I offer him another spoonful of oatmeal. He pushes away the spoon and holds out both arms – to my fruit smoothie. Am I convinced baby sign works? Definitely.
Some parents question whether or not this will hinder a baby’s ability to talk. After all, if they can sign to you that they have a headache, why would they ever learn to say it? Ah, that’s the beauty of it all! Researchers have found that babies who are taught to sign often talk sooner than non-signers. Signing babies realize sooner that they can be understood, and it’s exciting for them – not a hindrance.
One website I’ve found quite beneficial is Signing With Your Baby. This site gives all sorts of information for parents wondering whether or not they want to start signing. There are pictures of small children and babies doing the signs, and there are lots of articles that cover concerns such as “Will my baby still learn to talk?” You can find links to research here and products to help you along.
So here’s your sign – communicating with your baby doesn’t have to be a frustrating guessing game. Through some very simple sign language, you can jump start the interaction between you and your little bambino!