Okay, peeps I've heard a ton about baby sign language, and we never tried it with Dani. I just had it in my head that if we taught her to sign she would take longer to talk. I was contacted by the folks at babysignlanguage.com about, well baby sign language. I told them that if they wrote an article for baby signing skeptics, I'd put it on my blog and let you be the judge! (**disclaimer--I have received absolutely no compensation for this post**)
So, compliments of my newest BFF Mindy, here's the article! And, if you try it, let me know!
Baby Signing Skeptic
So you are a baby signing skeptic? That’s OK – baby sign language has been around for a while but there are many myths about how it works, or even if it works, and whether or not it’s actually worth while attempting. Teaching baby sign language to your baby should be fun and rewarding but it will only work if you’re really into it. Read on to find out more about why you should definitely teach your baby to sign…
Myth #1 – Babies who sign don’t talk early
Untrue. Research has shown that children who sign as babies often speak earlier! It’s true – baby signing can act as a ‘stepping stone’ to verbal speech, supporting a young child’s efforts to express himself. Research has shown that babies who have early exposure to signing often have bigger speaking vocabularies when they start school. How does this work?
From an early age, babies try to communicate in many different ways – through their facial expressions, for example, or by smiling, babbling, crying, trying to move nearer to you. The most important way to communicate with a baby is to let them know you have received their message. Nod, or smile, or pick them up. The response must fit whatever your baby is trying to communicate. One of the great things about Baby Sign Language is that it gives both babies and parents another tool for communication. Many studies show that signing does not replace speech, but actually aids its development, by improving a baby’s confidence in its ability to communicate.
Confidence And Communication:Babies who are better able to communicate their needs will develop more confidence than babies who struggle to be understood and validated. This is because every time you respond to your baby in a way which validates his efforts at communication, his confidence in his abilities grows. As your baby’s confidence grows, so will his abilities. It is a positive spiral. But the converse is also true – if a baby does not learn that his efforts at communicating are successful, he may either withdraw, or develop more and more extreme ways of getting your attention!
Communication And Language:It’s important to remember that talking is only one part of communication – and for most pre-school children it’s only a small part. Children communicate with us and each other through touch, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice, by telling stories and through play. They also instinctively communicate by using hand gestures – such as signs. Talking is a natural progression for children and talking to your children, by reading stories and explaining every day activities, is a great way to encourage speech. If you add sign language into the mix, you are simply giving your child another tool for expressing themselves. There is no evidence that baby sign language slows down speech development – while the opposite may indeed be true.
Myth #2 – Learning baby signing is difficult.
True – but it is no more difficult than learning any new skill, and babies have to learn many! Babies learn by imitation. Through all forms of interaction – play, quiet time, watching and listening, signing or talking – your baby is learning from you and the world around them. Whether they are learning how to walk, how to sign, or just how to interact with others, repetition is one of the ways they learn important messages about how to behave. The key to baby signing is repetition, and the more you do it the easier and more natural it is. Learning the signs can often be harder for the parent than the child, and this is why many parents don’t bother. But when you understand the whole range of benefits which come from signing – for baby and for Mommy and Daddy – you might think it worth the effort.
The benefits of baby sign language:
1: Signing helps with bonding. Signing is a two-way activity, encouraging communication from parent to baby and back again. In fact, mothers who sign with their babies often feel closer to them, noticing and appreciating baby’s efforts at communication earlier than non-signing moms.
2: The signs are simple and straight forward to learn. You can start signing with your baby by learning just a handful of signs, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and Diaper. Find more useful starter signs here. Once you’ve mastered these, it’s easy to build up your repertoire.
3: It’s a great way to involve dads. Dads sometimes feel left out of bringing up a baby, especially if Mom is breastfeeding. Apart from changing diapers, there’s not a lot he can do! Signing is something baby and daddy can do together, creating a special bond.
4. Baby signing is fun. So many things these days are just plain hard work! Baby signing is supposed to fun – and that’s one of the reasons it works so well. If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.
5. Signing reduces toddler tantrums. Yes, it really does. Baby signing has been proven to reduce frustration and to help children through those toddler-tantrum years. Many tantrums are caused by communication frustration, and when your child can easily express what he wants he is happier and calmer – and so are you!
6. It’s a great talking point. When you and baby are out for coffee, imagine how envious your friends will be when baby tells you she’s tired, or hungry, or too hot – just by making hand gestures? Amazing! While other moms struggle through the baby years, you and your baby will be communicating happily with each other. Be sure to share your knowledge with them.
7. Baby signing can help with post-partum depression. The bonding aspects of Signing cannot be underestimated. But post-partum depression can begin at any time, even during the second year. Many early-years programs teach baby sign language to moms and babies to help build communication and trust.
Still a skeptic? Why not give it a try for a month or two and see if it works for you. You never know, you may join the millions of Moms who love Baby Sign Language and have never looked back.