Benefits of Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

We Tried It 19

Xavier and AngelaIt happened in the middle of the night. My son was crying and it was my wife’s night to get up with him. Throughout our son's first year, his nighttime tears generated a frustrating checklist of potential problems: Does he need a diaper change? Is he teething? Did he lose his lovey? Is he having separation anxiety? Does he have a fever?

But this time, my son gave the answer right off. He tapped the tips of his fingers together, using sign language to signal more, meaning he was hungry. A couple chopped up strawberries later, his appetite was sated and both he and my wife (and me, the unlucky light sleeper in the family) could lay down our heads for the rest of the night.

We began teaching our son sign language when he was about six months old. We started with the signs for ‘more,’ ‘finished’ and ‘bath.’ We would repeat them over and over, and initially, it didn’t go well. He would screech when we took away his plate for second helpings, even though we signed and said ‘more.’ But soon, he learned the speech and gesture meant we were coming back with more food.

Then, about eight months after we started, my wife was feeding him and she asked if he wanted more. He tapped his fingertips. He understood! We all celebrated and took way too many photos. Since then, he has learned how to verbally say ‘more,’ but still signs it too. He also signs ‘bath,’ ‘eat’ and a couple other words. (‘Finished’ never caught on for some reason). Our son, people tell us, is very verbal. My wife and I believe signing helped him with his verbal skills, and recommend it to everyone. Sure, it takes a lot of patience and practice, but anything that shortens middle-of-the-night wake up cries is welcome in my family!

Did you sign with your child?

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nonmember avatar AMC

I signed with my son. He was a late talker (didn't talk til he was 2), so by the time he started talking he had about 50 signs he used on a regular basis. It was a lifesaver! And also, ridiculously cute.

Jennifer Killoran

Using sign lanuage is such a good thing. My daughter was able to tell me "More Milk Please" in signs when she was only 8 months old. She also used signs to tell me weather she wanted food or milk and if she wanted milk in a bottle or if she wanted to be nursed. She first started signing one sign at a time at age 5months.

Nurse... Nursekelly1980

My daughter signed "milk" when she was 8 months. It was to cute when she was hungry and those hands started

nonmember avatar Alina

I am a behavior analyst, and I teach language to children of all developmental levels and abilities, and I completely agree ( there is plenty of research to back this up) that sign language only encourages vocal language development. so does teaching multiple languages ( teaching sign language is actually considered the same as teaching a foreign language).

sassy... sassykat122

We have started with our 17 month old. She is starting to tell me when she wants food and its really amazing and confirmation that before their verbal skills are developed they are able to communicate

Foley... Foleygirl24

I don't know. I have a couple of friends who taught their kids sign language at a very early age and they don't talk at all, they just sign everything.There are no developmental delays as far as I know.  I know it's supposed to encourage verbal development, but that hasn't been my experience with it. How are they supposed to learn to talk if they don't have any reason to?

nonmember avatar AYF

We love it. She only really picked up on three signs--milk, more and all done. That said, so much fun! I don't think it delays verbal development either. She says mama, dada, book, kitty, doggy, ball and "mmmmm" (her version of yum). She also says "hiiiiii" to anyone that will make eye contact and is tickled pink when they respond.

Lacey Tierney

Yes we did use sign but we had no choice with our youngest. He is delayed and didn't start talking until four. Only a few words caught on but it was such a relief for even those few words.

nonmember avatar Amanda

We started signing with our daughter when she was about 8 months old. She caught on rather quickly & within about 2 months, she signed "eat", "more", "milk" & "please". She was also an early talker & I think signing helped tremendously. Now, at 2 & 1/2 years old, she has an extensive vocabulary, but still signs as well. I recommend it to any parent!

mom2b... mom2boys1997

We tried sign language with my second child, t did not work, we later discovered he was legally blind.

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