Teach your baby sign language

I came across this Associated Press article and while it’s not anything new, it’s a nice summary of teaching sign language to babies. We didn’t, but sometimes I wish we did…
Sign language class helps babies communicate
By LINDA HANSON
If you’ve seen a baby wave bye-bye, it shouldn’t surprise you that babies can use their little fingers to communicate before they can speak.
Monica Butche of Duluth taught her son American Sign Language and now teaches parents and their hearing babies.
Two 10-month-old babies – one with his mom and dad and another with her mom and grandmother – attended a recent Baby Sign Language class at Trinity Lutheran Church in Duluth.


At times, the babies’ bright eyes followed the adults’ hand movements and lively facial expressions as the grown-ups reviewed ASL signs for things such as “dog,” “bird” and “ice cream.” The babies smiled when the grown-ups sang and signed songs such as “Old MacDonald” and “This Old Man.”
Such scenes are becoming more common as teaching sign language to hearing babies has become popular. Learning simple sign language not only gives babies a way to communicate other than whining or crying, research also indicates it enhances language development, gives a good foundation for early literacy and can stimulate intellectual development.
Butche, who is deaf, said ASL is a language created by and used by deaf people. She teaches ASL at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica. Her sister, Angela Day of Duluth, has taken ASL classes and helps teach the Baby Sign Language class.
Butche’s 6-year-old son, Liam, can hear, but ASL became his first language when she taught it to him as a baby so she could communicate with him.
By 6 months, Liam recognized ASL signs and at 9 months he began using them. When he was 18 months old, he started telling simple stories in ASL, she said.
Read more at The La Crosse Tribune.

10 comments on “Teach your baby sign language

  1. Hi, your blog article caught my attention ’cause I have a baby sign language site http://www.babytalk-learn2sign.com and was looking for articles to add. It’s really good information. I taught both my kids sign language from birth and I’m so very glad I did and recommended it for anyone whose got a baby or toddler at home.

  2. 9 months? My kids talked at 10 mos. By 18 months they were speaking complete sentances…would teaching them sign language hamper the natural vocal progression? They rely too heavily on their hands?

  3. Baby sign language would not hamper natural vocal progression. The reason is this: you never use the sign on it’s own; it is always accompanied by the spoken word, which in turn encourges your baby to try and say the word in conjunction with the sign, signing actually aids in the learning process of the language since it requires using a physical movement in connection to a new word, this will be in your baby’s memory til he’s mastered the skill nessary to produce speech. Making words visual also your baby to understand what you are talking about. There will be a point where the baby will no longer need sign language to communicate this is a natural progression. My baby is 8 mos. and signs “more eat” or “more tickles”, “more play”, “more bath” and natural signs like arms open wide for “pick me up” and waving “bye-bye” but these two are signs are what babies have been doing before baby sign language. So now that people are finally catching on that babies are more than a sack of drooling potatoes that they want to communcate to us on anything once they learn signing. Which will lead to less frustration on baby and parents; increased confidence and curiosity with the world around them.
    Kina Barnum

  4. My wife is deaf, and we have been teaching our hearing daughter sign from the beginning and it has really helped her be more expressive in general in addition to strengthening her communication with her Mom. The Signing Time video series is very good for teaching babies, I highly recommend it. We liked the product so much that I put them all together in a blog – http://signingdvds.com.
    Keep up the good work, we practice attachment parenting but didn’t know there was a blog devoted to it until today.
    – Steve

  5. My son has a sensory processing disorder and speech delay. We did sign language with him and he learns the word when he learns the sign. Sign language has HELPED him to start talking verbally because he can “see” the word, and he is apparently a visual learner. Without signing, my son would be too frustrated to be able to learn. Sign relieves his frustration and allows him to learn the word verbally as well.

  6. I love sign language! right now i’m learning how to sign with my baby on MindBites: http://www.mindbites.com/person/84-MySmartHands
    The author’s name is Laura Berg and she teaches baby sign language classes (you can sign up online, google search: Mysmarthands) as well as how to make your own baby sign language flash cards. I’m loving her baby sign language video on dictionary terms and I hope she comes out with a DVD soon!

  7. Baby Sign Language really does work! I have watched and worked with my nephew on many different occasions. It was incredible how soon he could start to communicate. I think it is great that there are so many people interested in this… I have found a great site with some great material about Baby Sign Language. Check out infantsignlanguage.blogspot.com I think you might like what she says!

  8. My own two children were signing at 6.5 months. Their language and speech development have been amazing—they are now in elementary school and are big talkers, exellent readers, and still love to sign.
    I am the author of several sign language books for kids and families. My program, Baby Fingers, offers classes and resources for families.
    Check out http://www.mybabyfingers.com.

  9. I think baby signing is a great thing! However, I did wonder the same thing as a previous comment, would it hinder a child’s language development. Good to hear about the support it provides. My niece uses the sign language and it has definitely helped her convey to my brother and his wife her needs and wants.

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