The number one thing I am so happy I did for my son (and now daughter) is to learn and teach him sign language. I remember when my Aunt was teaching my cousin 14 years ago and how cool it was so see her catch on to signs and when she did a new sign for the first time how rewarding it felt. I knew when I was getting near the end of my pregnancy with Lincoln that this was something I wanted to invest my time in and start early. I'm also extremely lucky that his daycare, and where I work, supports and promotes infant signing.
The only negative I hear about teaching children sign language is the FALSE CLAIM that it delays speech. There has been extensive research on how untrue this is and to take it even further, it's actually proven that teaching gestures and sign language helps verbal communication. Read on as I share some studies and answer the most asked questions about baby signing...
Instead of summarizing comprehensive studies, I will link three articles and research papers about the correlation between verbal communication and sign language in infants and toddlers. Feel free to click through if you'd like to read more on this subject. ALL recent research (after 1980) shows that sign language and gesturing enhances verbal communication.
Imagine going to another country and becoming sick. You're speaking English, but they aren't. How would you tell them you're sick or hurt? Wouldn't you become frustrated and angry that they don't understand you? Wouldn't you feel helpless? I can guarantee you don't want your child to feel this way. By teaching yourself and your baby sign, you're creating a special communication tool to avoid these negative feelings that arise when a child can't express themselves.
Yes. Through my experiences, I can 100% tell you that signing works wonders and sets your child up for success. Lincoln has been able to tell me when he's hungry or thirsty since he was 7 months old. He started to sign hurt around 12 months old and that alone has helped his health and my ability to help him when he needed it. What you put into infant signing is what you will gain from it.
Even if you only teach a handful of signs, those will become irreplaceable. More is such a helpful sign during playtime or mealtimes. Water is a great sign if you're picking and choosing which to teach. My top 5 signs to teach your baby are: more, all done, hurt, help, water.
I will add that your keyword list changes as your baby changes. Lincoln's most used signs right now (22 months) are hurt, play, outside, please, thank you, eat, and all done. Layla's signs I'm focusing on right now (7 months) are eat, more, and all done. Different signs for different stages.