Using sign language with babies is a fun, effective way for parents to communicate with their children before they can talk. Research has shown that using sign language to communicate with babies speeds language development, reduces frustration, strengthens the parent/infant bond, and allows babies to share their worlds. Babies use "signs" to convey what they need whether they are taught American Sign Language (ASL), baby signs, or come up with their own. For example, a baby will let you know if they want to be picked up by raising their hands. That is how they communicate their need. Once the baby has a verbal word for that action or need, they will stop using their"sign".
It is best for parents to start with a few simple signs like “more” and “all done”. Meal time is the perfect time to try out signs since there is a captive audience. Remember that repetition is key. Signs can be found in books, like The Baby Signing Book: Includes 450 ASL Signs for Babies & Toddlers, or by using a video dictionary like www.aslpro.com. Creative programs that specialize in teaching parents and children sign language are another option. The library offers a sign language class for Naperville Public Library cardholders twice per year. This interactive program incorporates sign language into a fun storytime for infants ages 8 – 23 months and their caregivers. Look for the next program in the Winter program guide.
Most importantly, Parents should have fun introducing sign language to their baby. Signing is extremely beneficial for enhancing communication, improving self-confidence, and minimizing frustration for babies.