The sound of baby coos and cries might be music to your ears. But if you, like me, can’t wait to figure out what those sounds mean, then teaching your baby sign language is a great way to find out!
Many Circle of Mom members find that it encourages active participation in family conversations sooner rather than later. As Sarah B. shares, “It is so nice to ask my 11-month-old what she wants and have her be able to respond, ‘milk,’ or ‘tired.'"
Karenda, another Circle of Moms member who taught her babies sign language says that it enabled them to communicate simple messages — i.e. more, drink, eat, please, and thank you — before they were even a year old and developmentally ready to talk. “Signing helped me be aware of all the ways children can communicate and respond to communication from an early age."
She's come to believe that teaching babies sign language sends them an important message: “I think somebody respecting their attempts to communicate and responding to them really encourages them to keep communicating in all forms."
Here, Sarah, Karenda, and other Circle of Moms members share three reasons why teaching your baby to sign is worth the effort.
1. To Ease Your Baby’s Frustration
Most Circle of Moms members who teach their babies baby sign language tout its benefits in reducing frustration. Babies often feel frustrated when they are unable to say what they want and need to say, as Connie explains. She says her son's use of sign language help him feel "more self-confident," and that it has cut down the whole family's frustration levels.
Jennifer says sign language alleviated her nine-month-old daughter’s anger problems. Her pediatrician suggests sign language to help her communicate the basics, like hungry and tired. As Jennifer shares, “I realized she was just frustrated because she couldn't tell me what she wanted.”
Baby sign language also “saved so many melt downs from happening,” with Alyss’ two-year-old daughter. “It created communication where frustration would have otherwise been.” Alyss explains that teaching basic needs ("eat, sleep, drink, poo, pee, kiss, hug") was very helpful in the first year. As her daughter got older, she added signs for playing, items, different foods and emotions.
2. To Improve Listening
Sign language is also the perfect way to communicate across a loud or crowded room. As Cat explains, “Rather than make a scene by walking over, calling them over to me or adding to the noise by yelling ... I can sign ‘stop’ and put a quiet end to whatever it is they are doing.” A mom named Tracy adds, “Likewise, from a distance, I can tell them to ‘sit,’ ‘stand,’ ‘dance’ (if that is what they should be doing) or even send reminders to say ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry.’ It's a wonderful tool!”
3. To Improve Speech
Several Circle of Moms memebrs say that teaching your baby sign language can also ultimately improve their speech when they do begin to talk. According to Sarah, baby sign language “actually increases language comprehension, communication awareness and vocabulary. The vast majority of children introduced to sign language before age three score higher in word comprehension, language, and reading tests than kids who weren't exposed. And kids who began before age one are even more drastically advanced."
Indeed, Virginia A. found that although her son didn’t hear the English language until she adopted him from Korea when he was 8 months old, when he began talking, his sentences were almost complete. She attributes this to the fact that they started signing right away.
Still, Candace has one word of caution: “. . . when they are old enough to begin forming words, don't just accept the sign as enough for them to get what they want, ask them to use their words, too."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.