We use baby sign language with our daughter, she likes it when we make signs to her and speak the word at the same time, it really catches her attention and makes her smile and laugh. I feel I am really interacting with her. Why don’t you start with a few signs at first and build them up, make it fun for yourself and your baby. Here’s what Lisa says about baby sign language.
Most parents have heard of this recent parenting craze but not a lot of parents actually know what baby sign language involves. Many would naturally assume that you teach adult sign language to your baby, but this is not entirely correct. Let me explain why baby signing is very different to adult signing.
Sign language for people with hearing difficulties is dramatically different from our spoken language; it isn’t just a matter of substituting words with signs in the same sequence. To learn this language effectively, it takes as much effort as it would to learn any new language as it follows its own rhythm and structure. If you were to attempt to learn sign language in order to teach your baby, it is likely that your baby would be talking way before you even get started. This is probably what puts most people off teaching baby signing to their little ones as they feel they need to learn a second language.
Baby signing is different to adult signing. It doesn’t even follow the same structure. Signing for babies is based on the concept of keyword signing. Keyword signing is used in conjunction with speech and is usually used with hearing children and adults. Generally, keyword signing will be used for communication when one person can speak and the other one can’t. Keyword signs are used to compliment the spoken conversation and are used by the non-verbal child or adult to communicate back and respond. Some of the gestures used are often borrowed from sign language or may be modified to be more easily understood or performed.
Babies can understand most of what you are saying from the age of 6 months but they are unable to respond. They try their hardest to communicate through their body language but keyword signing provides a more effective means of communication to help them get their point across. They can easily communicate through the use of keyword signing well before their vocal chords are developed enough for speech. Through this communication method, they suffer less frustration because they are able to let you know what they think and want without the usual guessing games.
A baby that is less than 12 months old will have the ability to copy hand signals. If your baby is already waving hello or goodbye, they are certainly able to add more gestures to their vocabulary. Being understood is very empowering for the child and they recognize early how rewarding it is to have communication skills.
They are able to produce these hand signals at an age far younger than they are able to talk. Most babies are ready to use these signs by the age of 6-9 months whereas some babies may not speak until 12 months. For others who follow a slightly delayed speech development, they may not be able to communicate with words until they are over 2 years old. In this case, Baby Sign Language can be an invaluable tool, allowing them to express themselves almost a year before they would have naturally been afforded that opportunity.
Parent’s who take the time to nurture their child’s development by teaching Baby Sign Language are also more likely to spend quality time with their baby. They are more likely to seek out ways to improve their child’s development which flows on to have many positive benefits other than just the accelerated speech development.
For more information on baby sign language in Australia check out the Australian Baby Hands website http://www.australianbabyhands.com/.