Baby sign language is a series of simple gestures, or signs, that you and your little one use together to quickly and easily convey meaning. They are used before your baby can even talk, so it helps reduce the frustration associated with a baby not being understood. Most babies don’t begin to speak until well into their second or even third year and this can lead to tantrums. However, a baby who expects to be understood – and can be understood using sign language – is calmer in any situation. Imagine your baby could tell you he wanted milk, or more tickles, or that he saw a plane! It is a lot of fun for both babies and their parents.
Why use Baby Sign Language?
There are many advantages to using sign language with your baby. Here are just a few: Firstly it reduces the incidents of tantrums arising from frustration. Signing also encourages your baby to talk – you speak as you sign – and research shows that babies who sign tend to talk earlier than their non-signing counterparts. It also creates a strong parent/child bond. When you spend time signing with your baby, you spend quality time speaking with them, making eye contact and, often, singing and saying rhythms. These fun activities for baby are crucial to their early development and will help their vocabulary, self-expression and confidence. Signing also helps babies develop emotionally. When an infant can sign to you that they feel happy, sad, hungry, sick, tired, cold or hot they are developing an emotional vocabulary which allows them to be comfortable with and aware of their feelings from a very young age. Research also shows that babies who sign have a great vocabulary at school going age and a higher IQ at the age of eight, than those who never used sign.
These advantages are wonderful but as Professor Linda Acredelo, who has done a lot of research on baby sign, explains: “The reason to use baby sign language is not to raise IQ. The main reason to do it is for the social and emotional benefits – for the sense of connection between baby and child.”
Baby sign language is best taught to babies between 6 and 18 months, but can also be of great use to older toddlers and even on into school going years. Pre-schoolers can use sign to help them with recognising letters, shapes, numbers and colours. According to Speech and Communications Professor Marilyn Daniels “Sign language can be used to improve hearing children’s English vocabulary, reading ability, spelling proficiency, self esteem and comfort with expressing emotions.”
So why not try a baby sign class today, and introduce your little one to the joys of communicating with their hands!
This article was writen by Miriam at Superhands.ie.
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