There are many good reasons for teaching sign language to babies. For one thing, their basic needs and wants can be expressed and understood. Here are seven solid benefits in using American Sign Language (ASL) with infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
1. Sign language provides the ability to communicate earlier than speech.
Infants from can learn basic signs such as: more, milk, eat, play, mommy, daddy, sleep, and all done as early as 6 months old. Using sign language empowers babies to express themselves and it enable parents to understand their babies.
2. Early communication can enhance confidence and self-esteem.
Babies and children feel better about themselves when they are able to effectively communicate with the people around them. Parents also feel more confident if they are able to meet their child’s daily needs and wants.
3. Learning sign language aids in speech development and language skills.
Baby sign language helps children develop speech and reading skills. Studies have also shown that signing can lead to greater vocabulary growth. In one study, it was discovered that 2 year olds who signed as babies appeared to have, on average, a larger vocabulary than babies who did not sign.
4. Teaching sign language to a baby may increase their attention skills and brain development.
As sign language is a visual language, it requires attention skills which are important in both learning and social interactions. Studies have also shown that using sign language with babies has indicated an overall increase in cognitive development.
5. Babies have an innate ability to gesture with their hands long before their verbal skills emerge. Communicating with their hands comes easy for babies which makes it engaging and fun for them to learn.
6. Babies and toddlers who use sign language often cry less. Children are less frustrated when their needs are understood by their parents or caregivers and that cuts down on meltdowns.
7. Signing with a baby can create a bonding experience.
While signing, the parent and baby are talking, laughing, touching, and recognizing their attempts to see the world together. All of these interactions can help create a rewarding bond with babies.
There are various populations who have benefited from early introductions to sign language including children with hearing challenges, speech delays, Down syndrome, autism, and apraxia. Learning to sign allows all babies and toddlers the opportunity to show their comprehension of language. It bridges the communication gap for children with their parents, caregivers, teachers, friends and family members. Sign language provides emotional, social, and academic support needed for language development for many years. It makes sense to start early.
An easy way to learn some simple sign language is through mobile applications such as Sign Me ABCs, Sign Me a Sentence, My Signing Times and Baby Sign and Learn. Have fun learning!