Q: Will teaching sign language to my baby delay his speech?
A: No, definitely not. Babies are compelled to speak, in the same way as they are driven to crawl and to walk. It has been proven that signing babies have a significantly wider spoken vocabulary at age 2 than their non signing peers.
Q: Is it worth the trouble of learning how to sign when my baby will probably be talking by the time she is 2?
A: Yes, baby signing is very easy to learn. It is something that will enable your child to communicate at an age when speech has not yet been acquired. This will reduce the frustration a child feels and lead to fewer temper tantrums. Honestly!
Q: Isn't sign language for deaf children?
A: Yes, but it was noticed many years ago that deaf children acquired signing skills at a much earlier stage than their hearing peers acquired speech. Once signing was introduced to hearing children it was found that generally their spoken vocabulary was much larger than those not introduced to sign language.
Q: How can sign language help my child once she can speak?
A: Once your child has learned to speak you may find that she no longer uses signing. However, some babies will use a combination of words and signs, particularly if they cannot pronounce a certain word, for example helicopter, not easy to say but with an attempt at speech and a sign you would have no problem understanding. If your baby does continue to sign there are other benefits. You may find that your child continues to sign long after they can speak, especially in a delicate situation where for example they may want the toilet! Signing can be very useful at any age.
Q: My baby is only 4 weeks old. Is that too young to learn babysign?
A: We regularly have babies as young as 4 months signing their first sign (which is usually the sign for milk). I would suggest that you get started as early as you can. Every baby is different but what we do know is that due to the stimulation of the brain seeing the sign and hearing the word the sooner you start signing to your baby the more benefit they (and you) will receive.
Q: When will my baby start to sign?
A: That is a difficult question. As with babies learning to crawl or become potty trained or talk, they all develop at different ages. As with all stages in a baby's life, they will do it at their own pace. Some babies will be signing at 4 months and others not until they are a year old. My own daughter (despite lots of encouragement) was 11 months! I will say however, that perseverance in using the signs will reap rewards. When your baby tells you he is tired and wants to go to bed you will know it was all worth it.