Baby signing is a great way to communicate with your little one before she can communicate. Plus, it’s been shown to bring parents and their babies closer. And the best bit? It’s surprisingly simply for you and your baby to learn.
1. It boosts early communication skills
Babies naturally want to communicate – and baby signing is a brilliant way to help your little one to do so.
‘As their fine motor skills develop earlier than their ability to speak, they will start to clap, wave and point from around six to eight months,’ says Katja O’Neill from Signing Babies. ‘These natural gestures have been found to be a pre-curser for speech.’
Signing can add to these simple gestures, helping babies learn an astonishing 30 to 60 simple signs before they reach their first birthday. But Katja stresses that signing shouldn’t be used as a substitute for speech – rather in addition to it.
Babies can learn an astonishing 30 to 60 simple signs before they reach their first birthday
‘As you speak normally to your baby, you simply use a sign to emphasise the key word we try to communicate, i.e. “Do you want some milk”,’ explains Katja. Find out ten everyday signs, including milk, here.
2. A good dose of self-esteem
With signing, your baby learns to communicate her needs and observations long before she can speak, so you can easily respond to her.
‘Being able to communicate our needs and having them met is a huge part of our wellbeing and self esteem,’ says Katja. ‘It also increases the self-esteem of the parent, because it’s wonderful to be able to know what your baby wants without playing the guessing game – which can make us feel inadequate sometimes!’
3. It reduces frustration
Various research has shown that signing may be able to help reduce the amount of tantrums your child has when learning to speak.
‘The ‘terrible twos’ peak at around 17 months, which is largely due to the discrepancy between your baby’s needs and wants, and her ability to make herself understood,’ explains Katja.
Signing may be able to help reduce the amount of tantrums your child has
4. She’ll do better at school
Connecting the sound of a word to a visual sign can help a child get to grips with the word quicker.
‘When we sign, we connect the spoken word to a visual sign, which helps your baby to remember and learn the word more quickly,’ Katja explains. ‘Children who sign have also been found to have a larger “word bank” than non-signing children. The more words a child knows and uses by the age of five, the better they are thought to do academically, too.’
5. You’ll bond with your baby even more
Baby signing is a great way to boost interaction levels between you and your baby – and can help boost her overall development.
‘When your baby’s attempts to sign are recognised and rewarded, she’ll develop more,’ says Katja.
6. She’ll still be eager to chat
There has been lots of different ideas on whether signing speeds up a baby’s speech development. And while no conclusion has been reached, baby signing hasn’t been found to harm a baby’s ability to talk.
‘However, the undisputed fact is that your baby can learn to sign many words before she’s able to speak, and it doesn’t hold back speech,’ says Katja.
7. It’s great for multilingual families
Some parents have found that baby signing can be a great international communication tool for babies used to hearing more than one language.
‘I’ve found that it helped in our bilingual family, as signing was a bridge between the two languages spoken in our home,’ says Katja.
8. It makes you more confident
Arguably one of the best benefits of baby signing is that it will make you feel like you’re doing a good job at parenting. Understanding what your baby wants will make you feel like you know her better, consequently bringing you closer to each other.
If you use baby signing, how beneficial do you find it? Let us know in the comments box below.