Thursday, August 19, 2010

10 Things You Really Need to Know about Baby Sign Language

We have used sign language with Colton for over a year now, it has really helped give him a way to communicate with us despite his speech delay. So, when Misty over at asked to publish a guest post on my blog, I accepted immediately. Enjoy her list of 10 things you really should know about baby sign language.

1.Every baby can do this. Yes, every baby will learn at a different speed. Some babies will like to sign – others will not get terribly fired up about it. But all babies can do this.

2. All parents can do this. You do not need to be fluent in American Sign Language. You do not need to be a teacher. You do not need to be a patient saint. You can mess up daily and it will still be worth your while. You can do this, I promise.

3. Some elderly lady will come up to you in church and tell you that you are delaying your baby’s speech by signing with her. Just nod, smile and say okay, thank you. Then quickly walk away. You are NOT delaying anything. Multiple studies show that babies who learn to sign learn to speak SOONER than babies who don’t sign. When they do learn to talk, toddlers who have grown up signing have bigger vocabularies and utilize longer sentences. You are helping your baby learn to speak, not hindering her, no matter what well-meaning little old ladies say.

4. Babies and toddlers who know how to sign show less frustration behaviors such as screaming, crying, and biting. (What’s the sign for hooray?)

5. Studies show that children who grow up signing have a higher reading level.

6. Learning American Sign Language is learning a life skill. Your child will have a foundation to speak and understand a second language.

7. It is never too late to start. Many moms start signing when their babies are 18 months old, or even older. Some moms start signing because their child’s speech is deemed “delayed” by the medical establishment. If you have an interest, then don’t think your baby is “too old.”

8. Signing improves self-esteem. Learning to sign and being praised for signing will build your child’s confidence. By teaching her to sign, you are showing her that you care what she thinks, how she feels, and what she has to say. All of this will make her feel better about herself!

9. I hate to even include this in my list, but it could be valuable information, so … some daycares are now requiring that babies know how to sign. They might not advertise this, but when you are battling for a spot in a popular daycare, signing babies stand a better chance of landing the gig. Also – and here’s the part that makes me sound like an infomercial – Baby Sign Language looks good on a pre-school application. I know, it’s ridiculous, but true. Educators know that those children who sign do better in school and are easier to teach. Please don’t think that I’m telling you that if your 20-month-old isn’t signing that he is doomed to failure. That would be ridiculous and I am not suggesting that. But it is true that there are social advantages to signing.

10. Have fun. Please, please, please, don’t make this another stressful thing you tack on to stressful parenting. Signing with your baby is supposed to be fun, and it will not work for either of you if it feels like a chore. Don’t put any pressure on yourself or your baby and just view it as a way to play and bond with your baby. You already talk to her, you already read to her, you already feed her. Baby Sign Language is not about stopwatches, charts and drills. It’s about incorporating a simple, gentle method of communicating into your daily lives. You can choose how much, how fast, and how to do it. Just make sure you’re doing it with a smile, or it’s just not worth it.


  1. I happened to click through to your blog after reading your comment on Raising Homemakers today... and I'm really thankful you had this post up! About an hour ago, I wrote down "Get baby sign language book" on my to-do list. :) I'm going to check out that website. My son is 6 months old and I've heard now is an ideal time to begin signing.

  2. so glad you saw this post then!!! it is a great resource, be sure to check out the 10 starter signs.

  3. I *loved* signing with V. It was wonderful to have her be able to communicate before she could speak, to know whether she wanted milk or water. And was she polite! Never a request with out a please and thank you...and she got to talk with her mouth full *G*