Sign Language for Babies: Pre-verbal Communication

Sign Language for Babies
Signing “More”

You may be wondering why anyone would want to teach sign language for babies. When I first heard about it, I wondered the same thing. Several years ago I met a woman who was quite passionate about educating people about the benefits of sign language for hearing babies. Her passion piqued my interest enough that I began to research it more. It turns out that there are quite a few benefits not only for the child but for the parents as well.

Recently I had a very frightening experience. My car lost complete power without any warning. It was early morning, still dark and I was stranded at an intersection without headlights, brake lights or emergency flashers. Worse, I couldn’t unlock the doors or even roll down the windows to get out of the car. Needless to say, I had a total freak out moment not knowing if the cars coming behind me would know my car was stopped at a green light. Fast forward…. $800 and a new alternator and battery and I’m back in business. Or so I thought. A week later, my car was being towed back to the dealership.

What does this have to do with sign language for babies? Nothing, but it has to do with communication. As hard as I tried, I could not adequately explain to the mechanic what happened to my car before it shut down. Between my lack of vocabulary for the correct terms, my limited knowledge of proper names for the gauges and equipment affected, and my “post traumatic stress” from the initial incident the communication was less than effective. When the person you’re speaking with doesn’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, it’s frustrating, even stressful. The natural reaction is to keep repeating the same thing over and over, just louder. As you know, this only results in increased frustration, not resolution.

Back to Sign Language for Babies

If you think about it, that’s exactly what happens when babies can’t effectively communicate their needs or desires. For adults, these types of encounters are sporadic and mostly circumstantial; but for pre-verbal babies, this is constant in their world.

Few things are more frustrating than not understanding what your baby wants. Introducing sign language to babies as young as 6 months old is a great way to start providing core communication concepts that ultimately reduce frustration for both you and your baby. Win. Win.

Communication is at the heart of child development so it makes sense to me that if you enhance this, you jumpstart and enhance language development. Surprisingly, I actually found very little solid “scientific” evidence to support the claims of a correlation between increased IQ, and baby sign language. I don’t doubt that it does, I just couldn’t find the science to back it up. However, the anecdotal information for benefits was impressive enough that I decided to introduce sign language to my own grandchildren.

These tips will help you get started:

  1. Start with just a few words. We started with Milk, Eat, Done, More, Please and Thank you. A quick YouTube search and you’ll be able to find an abundance of demonstration videos. But really, most are pretty intuitive.
  2. Keep it fun. Be playful. Incorporate music when you can.
  3. Use lots of repetition. Add signing into your daily routines. Obviously, the more you do it, the more reinforced it becomes.
  4. Engage other family members (parents, siblings, grandparents)
  5. Expand the vocabulary. Add additional words and signs as appropriate.

I love watching the progress they make and how proud they are with each new accomplishment. But mostly, I love this special bond we’ve created. Try it, you won’t be disappointed with the reward.

PS: Maybe I should volunteer to teach the mechanic at the Honda dealership sign language.

Additional Resources

I’ve created a sign language for babies resource list on Amazon. If you’re interested, you can Click here to view it.

If I chose only one thing from the list, it would probably be the flash cards because it’s such a great intro product.

This article from the Mayo Clinic also has a lot of helpful information.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you currently sign with your children or grandchildren? Are you considering it? Pop back in and share your experience.

<——-Click here to purchase your flash cards.

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6 thoughts on “Sign Language for Babies: Pre-verbal Communication

  1. Great post! We started with my daughter, just “milk” and “eat”. Knowing which one she wanted saved us so much frustration! 😊

  2. I never got my kids to do lots of sign language but they all used more and done at least. I think it’s a great idea, especially for kids who learn language slowly.

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