Baby Sign Language — Bridging the Gap

Sign language can be a fun and effective way to allow your baby to communicate prior to the development of verbal language. This is possible because a baby’s cognitive abilities develop at a faster rate than speech. Sign language bridges the gap between non-verbal and verbal phases by utilizing a baby’s faster developing hand-eye coordination. The idea behind the use of sign language for babies is that it will decrease frustration and tantrums because your baby can tell you what he or she needs. Can signing delay verbal language development? The American Academy of Pediatrics states that this is not a concern. In fact, they report that it shows your baby is effectively communicating.

To get the most out of your baby’s sign language experience, Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendations:

  • Set realistic expectations: Start signing with your child at any age, but remember that most children aren’t able to communicate with baby sign language until about age 8 months.
  • Stay patient: Don’t get upset if your child uses signs incorrectly or doesn’t start using them right away. The goal is improved communication and reduced frustration — not perfection.
  • Be consistent: Repetition is the best way to ensure your child’s success in using baby sign language. Encourage other caregivers to use the same signs.

Now that you have made the decision to start teaching your baby to sign, how do you start?  Familiarize yourself with signs through books, websites, or a community class.  Choose a few simple signs that will be part of your routine.  Examples include mother, father, eat, drink, more, done, and please. The signs below are from