When I was pregnant, a friend of the family (Hi Paul!) gifted us an incredible book about the benefits of teaching babies sign language. A few chapters into the book, we were convinced this was something we wanted to implement in our household. Since then, I have given this book, The Baby Signing Bible: Sign Language Made Easy (by Laura Berg, $11 on Amazon) to a number of expectant mothers.
I did some research and found a company that offered sign language lessons to parents via Google Hangout for an hour a week over the course of six weeks. Each week, we covered a topic (for example: “food” or “family”) and learned about ten or fifteen signs. At the end of each class, we were tested using flash cards on that week’s topic and the topics from the weeks before. It was a minimal commitment and yielded great results – by the time Daisy was born, Nick and I knew about sixty different signs plus all colors, numbers and letters of the alphabet.
Daisy has picked up sign language really well and can say the following words already:
… These are words she can’t express verbally, but, sign language has given her the ability to communicate what she feels despite not being ready to speak the words.
Fewer tantrums – so often, a tantrum or screaming fit are rooted in an inability to communicate and the frustration that comes from not being able to express oneself. Babies who sign experience fewer incidents of distress.
Higher confidence at an earlier age – when a child feels they can communicate successfully, they are more likely to feel confident about their abilities. Giving babies a tool for expressing themselves before their mouths are developed enough to form words creates an opportunity for confidence to build earlier on.
Closer bond with baby – the sooner you can understand each other, the closer baby feels to her family.
Deeper and more dynamic intelligence – Research from the University of Michigan found that “early exposure to signing helps babies develop their language and reasoning skills. While other babies are still yelling to get what they want, signing babies are learning how to communicate with words and simple phrases.” These studies showed long-term cognitive benefits, including:
Signing "all done"
Books for Kids
Baby Signs: Baby-Sized Introduction to Speaking by Joy Allen
My First Signs by Annie Kubler
"Sign About" Board Books
These early learning board books are focused on signing topics like getting dressed, play time, going out and meal time.
Resources for Parents
Start Signing! Why Kids Should Learn Sign Language from Parents Magazine
Baby Sign Language: 21 Words to Know from Parenting
We have really enjoyed the process of learning and using sign language in our household. Watching Daisy learn to communicate has been a great joy and it has reduced the stress of trying to guess what baby needs for us as parents. If you have a baby at home or on the way, give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.
Not sign language-related. Just a cute photo of Daisy with gourds.