Baby Sign Language – is it helpful?

Have you tried baby sign language with your baby?

I heard about baby sign language as a speech pathologist, so was very eager to try it out with my little one when he came along. I have been very interested to hear how many people comment on the use of baby sign language and what their thoughts are. Here are the most common thoughts that people have shared with me and what research has shown about them:

Will using baby sign stop your baby from talking?

Research has shown that this is not the case, using gestures at the same time as talking with your baby will not hinder their language development. It can actually help to provide them with extra visual cues to understand what you are saying and respond to it. However, this does not have to be formal sign language. You can just use the natural gestures that you already know and this will have the same impact.

Will baby sign give superior language abilities?

Actually, more recent research demonstrates that Baby sign will not increase the overall language skills of a baby who is typically developing. However, what was found was that use of baby sign can help with maternal bonding. The Mothers in the baby sign group of the study were more tuned-in to their babies non-verbal cues and were able to respond to them quicker.

So why did I choose to use it? Because I knew that it wouldn’t hinder language development and I wanted to have some means to understand my Son before he could talk to see if this would reduce his frustration. This worked well for us. He was able to sign ‘more’ and ‘help’ before he could say them, which gave him a way to communicate clearly with me about what he needed. It is also super cute to see a baby sign!!

What can you do? There is no need to study baby sign language, but you could use gestures with your baby as you are talking to them and watch them to see if they use any gestures back to you then respond to them.

Olivia Green
Speech Pathologist

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