Sunday, April 8, 2012

Baby Sign

I received a question from a reader about Baby/Toddler Sign Language, and how that affects their language development.  Here are my thoughts on that topic:Baby Sign is the concept of teaching an infant a couple of simple signs (such as milk, food, sleep)  in the hopes of helping them communicate earlier.  The logic is that a child is able to make the gross motor movements of those signs earlier than they would learn how to coordinate the fine motor movements of speech.  Babies can learn to sign back as early as about 6 months, whereas they often don't use true words until about 9 months or later.Research shows that using sign with your child can give your child a language advantage, higher intelligence scores, and better communication with parents.  And in my opinion, there's nothing wrong with teaching your baby some signs, unless you start to use only signs and stop talking to your child.  In that case it makes sense that the child stops hearing language therefore they stop learning it.  I would recommend that if you're using baby signs, be sure to not reduce the language you speak with your child in any way, and when they are old enough to start talking, then I think it's probably a good idea to fade away so they learn to rely on vocalizing instead of signing.  If you let your child get what they want from signing only then they won't see a need to start talking because their needs would be met.  Once again, I think it's all about finding the right balance.This handout explains things clearly - take a look.I hope that information is useful and that it answers your questions!  Let me know if you have other thoughts about this subject.

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