Hands Up! The Benefits of Teaching Your Baby Sign Language
A baby’s giggle is a precious sound, not to mention those long awaited first words. But in the meantime, communicating with your baby is a crucial skill that must be learned by parent and child alike. Laughing and crying are baby’s ways of sharing needs and emotions, but what about another way to express themselves? Before babies can use speech to effectively communicate, they can actually start by using gestures. So, whether your baby is able or unable to hear, infant sign language can be an invaluable tool for communicating, learning, and living!
Want to know more? Read on for the benefits of teaching your tykes sign language…
Research suggests that using gestures can typically help babies communicate as early as several months before they can rely on speech alone. So, if you are wondering when to start teaching baby sign language, it can be helpful to try new words early, at around five to six months old. At around six to seven months, babies will be able to start remembering a sign. By eight months, they can start signing single words and begin to imitate gestures. After lots of practice, at two years old, kids can sign compound words and even full sentences!
Without the use of gestures, babies rely on their guardians to interpret their cries. For parents, this can be a tricky task. But babies can use gestures in the forms of words and simple phrases to communicate to show parents that they need attention. While cries leave you trying different options (food, sleep, cuddles), simple signs can help your baby let you know what their specific need is.
One of the most noticeable benefits of learning infant sign language is that it speeds up mental skills and even speech development. Babies who sign often tend to learn to speak earlier and have better language skills. Learning sign language can also help kids think more creatively and develop better problem solving skills. The combination of learning verbal and non-verbal communication can lead to understanding more vocabulary and longer sentences. These benefits can often lead to overall improved academic performance in the future.
Signing can make language a multi-sensory experience. Communicating through seeing, hearing, and movement creates more pathways in the brain to solidify memory and improve recall. Children end up using both sides of the brain to remember language and as they learn words, they are engaging their muscle memory too! This can help to reinforce other concepts that your little one is learning, such as the alphabet, animals, and so much more.
When babies struggle to show their guardians what they need through verbal means alone, they can become confused and frustrated when trying to communicate. Infant sign language can allow babies to develop a better understanding of their parents and to feel more understood, thereby easing frustration and facilitating parent-child bonding. Having multiple ways to express themselves can form healthy and effective communication with parents that can serve to improve self-esteem and confidence for years to come.
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we want to ensure that you have the best tools at hand to help your little one learn to thrive in this big, new world. When deciding how to begin communicating with your child, we hope knowing the many benefits of baby sign language can help you evaluate whether using gestures is the right fit for your family. For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out, our passionate team is always ready to lend a hand!