Signing with your babies has tremendous benefits, such as:
facilitates earlier communication
Since babies gain motor skills way before they are able to speak, teaching them how to sign will give them the opportunity to express their needs and desires before even being able to say their first words. Also, when they start talking, signing helps you understand what they attempt to say: What “ba” does mean: baby? bottle? bug? banana? Just ask your child to show you the sign and repeat the right form of the word while you are signing back.
Signing is a face-to-face way of communicating and a great opportunity for parents to find out what their babies find interesting in the early development stages. Imagine you are taking a walk outside with your baby and she sees a bird and sign it, letting you know what she is seeing and thinking about in that moment – this gives you the opportunity to stop and talk more about it, to share the moment and bond.
Signing gives your baby the opportunity to reach out to you in a more positive and relaxed way.
reduces frustration and tantrums
Once infants make themselves understood they have an improved confidence and self-esteem and their caregivers can better and faster respond to their needs and desires resulting in less frustration and less crying.
Less frustration and less crying result in a happier and more confident baby and an harmonious environment.
strengthens fine motor skills
Signing is also exercise and as such it contributes to strengthening the muscles in the hands and arms and helps earlier development of coordination. Strengthening fine motor skills improves activities like eating independently or writing.
facilitates oral language and early literacy
Signing enhances the ability of spoken language by significantly increasing verbal recall and vocabulary retention due to the use of multiple receptors (visual, audio, tactile, kinesthetic). Hearing infants exposed to sign language begin speaking earlier, develop larger vocabularies and develop recall skills that make them better performers at school later on.
Signing words and finger-spelling help children retain vocabulary, ABC’s and spelling, facilitating early literacy.
Baby sign language is usually based on a real sign language like American Sign Language (ASL). Using ASL words exposes students to a different culture and give them a first glimpse at a second language.
stimulates brain development
Baby sign language increases bilateral brain processing by engaging both sides of the brain. Children who sign learn to link symbols with concepts.
Research has shown that children who signed when they were babies scored higher on IQ tests.
bridges 2 spoken languages
Imagine a baby that has French parents and lives in an international city like Amsterdam.
Parents speak French with the baby and the baby is exposed to Dutch and English when outside of the house.
The baby spends most of the time with her mother so she will learn French much faster. Teaching her how to sign will improve communication and will speed up her learning skills for the other languages as well: parents can clarify for their child some concepts when outside of the house and communication is done in another language and the child can clarify herself when speaking a language that parents don’t fully understand.
Using sign and word (in either language) with a multilingual child helps him understand and learn faster because the sign is always the same.
children with special needs have a way to express themselves
Studies show that children with special needs, such as apraxia of speech, autism, or down syndrome who have difficulties with speech can make great strides in their communication development with sign language.