Baby Sign Language - What Are the Benefits?
Give yourself a pat on the back. You've survived several months with very little sleep and still managed to feed, clothe, change, and PLAY with your baby. Parenting is hard, and if it's not, you're not doing it right. So now your baby is 6-9 months old and much more active and curious. He is also awake for longer periods of time. But...how is your baby communicating with you?
Your baby is communicating his wants and needs many times every day. Initially, your infant is crying when he needs changed, needs fed, or is just plain uncomfortable. By age one, many children are pointing in order to make requests, and others are already at the single word stage. But what about that in between stage, where they are not crying as much, but before words? That is when baby sign language would be most beneficial.
Baby sign language consists of some signs taken from American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language, etc. and modifying them by simplifying the motor task, or duration of the sign. There's really no right or wrong way to implement baby sign language into your child's daily routine. Some of the most frequent signs are: more, please, thank you, cookie, hungry, and thirsty. You can easily look up these signs on Youtube or the internet. There are also a variety of books on baby sign language that include pictures for reference.
Most of you are probably wondering if you teach your baby sign language, will that inhibit him from actually speaking. Since you would be pairing the sign with the verbal word, your child would be seeing and hearing the word simultaneously. Sign language can prove to be a great benefit for children who are not talking yet, as well as those with language delays. Signing can decrease your child's level of frustration and give them a meaningful way to communicate with you.
Before embarking on the fun of signing with your baby, there are some things you should be aware of. Baby sign language is not ASL (American Sign Language) and often does not contain grammar components. Remember to pair the sign with the word for increased language exposure and always teach your baby the signs in an interactive environment. When initially learning language, babies and children require face-to-face interaction with numerous opportunities to practice their signs and words. Babies and children cannot truly learn language through a DVD or Youtube. They require the back and forth of language; a language partner.
I hope this blog has given you some insight into the world of Baby sign language. If you choose to sign with your baby, remember to make it fun, as babies and children do their best learning through play. Perhaps an Our First Year backpack to facilitate your playing. It's all in the bag!