Updated: Jun 12
As a speech language pathologist, I often get asked by parents about ways they can support their child's language development. One approach that I frequently recommend is the use of baby sign language. In this post, I'll explain what baby sign language is, how it can benefit your child, and provide some tips on how to get started. What is Baby Sign Language?
Baby sign language involves teaching infants and toddlers a set of simple gestures that correspond to everyday words and phrases. These gestures allow babies to communicate their wants and needs before they are able to speak. Baby sign language is typically used in conjunction with spoken language, not as a replacement for it.
A few benefits of using baby sign language are:
Enhances Early Communication: Baby sign language can help to enhance early communication and reduce frustration for both parents and babies. By using simple gestures, parents can understand their baby's needs and wants, which can lead to a positive and more responsive relationship between parent and child.
Improves Language Development: Research has shown that babies who use sign language have larger vocabularies and better language skills than those who do not. Learning sign language can also help children to develop a stronger understanding of language and grammar rules, which can benefit them as they continue to learn and grow.
Strengthens Parent-Child Bond: Using baby sign language provides an opportunity for parents to engage in meaningful interactions with their child. This can strengthen the parent-child bond and contribute to positive social and emotional development.
Some of the best ways to get started with baby sign language:
Start with Basic Signs: Begin by teaching your child basic signs like "more," "milk," and "eat." Use the sign each time you say the corresponding word.
Be Consistent: Use the same signs consistently so that your child can learn and remember them.
Keep it Simple: Stick to a few signs at a time and gradually add more as your child becomes more comfortable.
Make it Fun: Incorporate signs into daily routines and activities like mealtime and playtime. Singing songs and reading books with signs can also be a fun way to reinforce learning.
Incorporating baby sign language into your child's daily routine can have numerous benefits for their language development and overall communication skills. By starting with a few basic signs and being consistent, parents can help their child to develop a strong foundation for language and communication.