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Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Sign Language For Infants: Bunk or Beneficial? Friday, June 13, 2008

Filed under: Communication,New Mommas — TeachingMom @ 2:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

As parents, we are constantly inundated with advertising for the latest “craze” that is supposed to be the best thing for our children.

You know what I mean. Everything from organic foods to the “best ” type of diaper on the market, to educational software and videos designed to make your child ready for college by the ripe old age of five.

How are we supposed to know what really is legit and what is just a marketing ploy?

One of the popular learning opportunities available these days is baby sign language. Just walk into your local bookstore and check out the shelves to see what’s available. Teach Your Tot To Sign, Baby Signs, Sign, Sing and Play, Sign With Your Baby. The list goes on and on.

But how do you know if sign language is really worth the time and effort?

From my own personal experience, it is.

If you look around the web and google sign language, infants, research, you’ll get some interesting information.

Here are some important points to ponder when deciding if signing is something you wish to pursue:

1. Children as young as 3 months of age can use simple signs such as “Milk,” “More,” and “Eat” to make their needs known.

2. Using sign language with a pre-verbal infant will NOT delay spoken language development. In fact, it has been shown that children who are exposed to signing develop spoken language earlier than those children not exposed to sign language, they tend to have larger vocabularies, read earlier, and are more likely to read for pleasure than their non-signing counterparts.

3.Early communication opportunities such as using sign language, help decrease a child’s frustration level, because he or she is able to make needs known to caregivers.

4.Using sign language has been shown to decrease tantrums that are often caused by a child’s inability to express wants and needs verbally.

5.Certain centers in the brain develop earlier than others. One area that develops sooner is the area that controls gross motor skills. This is why a child will roll over, pick his/her head up, and grasp at objects before his or her first words are spoken. It takes longer for infants to learn how to coordinate the muscles that control the lips and tongue. By using sign language, the gross motor skills can be put to use for communication until the facial muscles catch up to develop speech.

6. Because many children with hearing loss are mainstreamed into their home school districts, the odds are that your child may have someone deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech delayed who use sign language as the primary form of communication in the classroom. This opens the door to increased understanding of differences, and your child will be able to communicate with those peers.

7. Signing also opens doors later in life, because many high schools and colleges are now offering American Sign Language for foreign language credit. American Sign Language is the third most widely used language in the United States (behind English and Spanish).

Below are some links that you may find useful is finding out why using sign language to communicate with infants is beneficial. Check them out. Then check back with me in a couple of days to learn more about the different types of signing programs that are out there, and how to decide which one is right for you.

Upcoming Posts:

Signing With Infants: How to Navigate the Options

How To Find Classes In Your Area.

What if There Aren’t Local Classes? How Do I Begin?

What Am I Looking For? Early Response to Signing.

My Family Thinks I’m Crazy: Dealing With Naysayers.


7 Responses to “Sign Language For Infants: Bunk or Beneficial?”

  1. Dana Says:

    I was really diligent in teaching my first baby, now 2-years-old, sign language. It was incredibly helpful and very entertaining. It also made my child look like a prodigy whenever I got him to “perform” for family and friends. It is absolutely adorable! I really feel it helped him to speak sooner. Now I just have to get back on the boat and get my 9-month-old using it!

  2. 01crazymomma Says:

    I started with my son (now 3 1/2) right after he was born. It’s my second language, so it was only natural that I would use it with him. He started signing back at around 4 1/2 months, and his first spoken word popped out at 10 months. He’s gone through periods where he refused to sign, even though he may not know the word he was looking for in English. Then all of a sudden, he shows a renewed interest in it and will go an entire day asking, “Mommy, what’s the sign for…?”

  3. Holly Says:

    We started signing when our daughter was 5.5 months old. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us. She is now 2, and still continues to sign and speak.

  4. 01crazymomma Says:

    Loved the video! Did Kalen get accepted for the Signing Time audition? I had a friend who auditioned her daughter as well.

    We’re big fans of ST around here as well. My son really likes the ABC practice and the Happy Birthday (season 2)

  5. Kristin Says:

    All 4 of my kids sign. My oldest still signs in 1st grade, and my 17 month old twins love to sign. We use simple signs with the twins, and it really helps to know if they want “more” and they love to sign “thank you”

  6. Dana Says:

    I’m so impressed with all the stories! My 2-yr-old no longer knows any signs, as we gave it up after he began speaking. Didn’t even cross my mind to keep it up.

  7. Deana Says:

    Just to let you know that our website has been updated and the correct link to view the supporting research on using ASL with babies is now


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