Baby Sign Language: Use it or lose it?
Have you heard of baby sign language? Ha! Who am I kidding, unless you have been living under a rock for the past twenty years, you absolutely have ( not knocking living under rocks, if that’s your thing 😉 ). Many parents are considering it, and even more are using it, to teach their babies language skills long before they are able to talk. You can start teaching your baby sign language as early as 6 months, but they wont have the mental or physical capability to actually do it themselves until 8 months. However, some parents are still skeptical as to its helpfulness.
Even before I was pregnant with my daughter I knew that I wanted to teach her sign language. I wanted to teach her Spanish too, but you win some you lose some ;). I started teaching my daughter Audrey sign language as soon as the 6 month marker hit. I was ready and rearing to go with baby sign language, and owned all of the Baby Signing Time dvd’s (which I LOVE by the way). Anyway, you can imagine the level of my impatience when she didn’t start signing until she was a year old. I had almost given up teaching her at that point, but it was so encouraging to see her say “thank you” in sign language after six months of teaching her how to do it.
Ready for some eye opening facts on sign language?! It wasn’t until the 1960’s that ASL, American Sign Language, was even considered valuable option for the deaf to use to communicate, but it has grown to being the third most used language among English speakers in the United States today. It keeps fluctuating as the third or fourth most studied language among college students in the United States as well. Knowing these facts should alert us as parents that ASL is a great skill to teach our kids.
Now Audrey is almost 18 months old, and she uses baby sign language like a champ. She probably knows about 25 different signs and uses them constantly. However, she hasn’t really began to talk very much yet. This had me concerned that drilling her with baby sign language has impacted her ability to speak negatively. Yet according to many leading pediatricians as long as your baby is communicating effectively, that’s all that matters. Their ability to speak has no correlation with their ability to sign. That makes me feel so much better about it.
To conclude, when it comes to baby sign language I say USE IT! It’s not that hard to learn or teach, and it gives you a special way to connect with your little one at a young age. I have found that it helps with Audrey not getting so worked up because she can communicate with me. I can ask her what she wants and she can tell me, and I’ve been able to do that for the last 6 months. My parents are always commenting about how they wish the had taught us sign language to lessen the burden of miscommunication with us as young kids.
Wanna get started with baby sign language with your little one? Here’s a great video that teaches some of the basic signs!
Have you taught your kids sign language? Share your stories in the comment section below on how it has helped or hindered.
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