06 September 2010

Introduction to Baby Sign Language

What is the big deal with baby sign language?  Is this really necessary?  Isn’t this just another part of the helicopter parent hype?  My baby will learn to talk when he wants to, right? 

These are all valid questions. 

Here’s how it all started.  In the seventies and eighties, researchers noticed a few things:
  • Hearing babies of deaf parents communicate better than hearing babies of hearing parents.
  • Babies and toddlers spontaneously try to communicate with gestures.


And when researchers notice things, the studies begin.  Their research showed:
  • Babies who learned Baby Sign Language learned to speak at an earlier age than those who didn’t.
  • Signing toddlers had larger vocabularies than non-signing toddlers.
  • Signing toddlers spoke in longer sentences than non-signing toddlers.
  • Children who grew up signing were better spellers than those who didn’t.
  • Children who grew up signing had better grammar and syntax than those who didn’t.
  • Children who grew up signing had higher reading levels than those who didn’t.
  • Children who had been taught baby sign language had higher IQs than those who hadn’t.


Baby Sign Language uses the same signs as American Sign Language, the official language of the deaf community.  Parent and caregivers simply teach these signs to their babies and toddlers.

As a result, babies and toddlers are able to:
  • Ask for milk or juice.
  • Specify if they want mommy or daddy (or anybody else).
  • Tell you when they are hungry or thirsty.
  • Ask for more of something.
  • Tell you when they are finished.
  • Tell you they need a new diaper.
  • Tell you they need to use the potty.
  • Ask to be set down or picked up.
  • Ask for help.
  • Ask to go to bed.
  • Tell you if they are hurt and what parts of their bodies are in pain.
  • Tell you they’ve lost a shoe.
  • Ask for their favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
  • Say “I love you.”
  • Say please, thank you, and sorry.



Baby Sign Language is a simple way to communicate with your baby or toddler.  Not only will it make your life easier, but the benefits for your baby are innumerable.  Signing with your baby will show her that you care what she thinks, feels, and needs.  Plus, it’s fun.  It is irresistibly cute when your baby first signs to you.  And later, when you can carry on a conversation with your nonverbal toddler, you will wonder how parents do without signs.  And best of all, baby sign language is free.  No helicopter marketing.  While there are helpful classes, DVDs, and books out there, you don’t really need any of them.  Via websites such as Baby Sign Language, you can access a wealth of information and tools for free.  Everybody wins with baby sign language.
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