Baby Sign

From Academic Kids

Baby Sign involves using sign language to communicate with babies and toddlers.

Children of an early age have a will, but cannot communicate their needs or wishes clearly, which often leads to frustration and tantrums. By using signs for often used words such as "eat", "sleep", "more", "play", the children can learn to express their needs before they are able to co-ordinate lips, tongue, breath and vocal chords in such a way as to produce comprehensible speech.

Babies in Deaf families use simple signs from as early as 6 weeks, because hand-eye co-ordination is easier than the co-ordination needed for speech, and because they are immersed in a sign-using environment. It has been estimated that 90% of a baby's linguistic observations are observations of interactions between others, not interactions between self and others. It follows, then, that babies will strive towards the communication form they are immersed in, and use of sign among other family members is at least as important as use of sign to the baby, if early use of sign language is desired.

Use of Baby Sign is growing, but it is still not widely used. This may be due to parents not knowing what signs to use, or the fear that their children will not learn to speak properly, or early.

All evidence so far gathered suggests that hearing children who use sign as infants go on to develop a particularly rich spoken vocabulary, and a tendency to communicate through problems, rather than tantruming through them.

Some parents also feel that they don't have enough time to teach their baby sign language, even though they have the intention to do so.

Parents who have some enthusiasm for sign language may already know the local signs for "eat", "sleep", "more", "play", and may find it more natural and productive to use a "baby" version of these words, and gradually introduce more adult forms of more signs as the infant grows. It is, however, common for parents to teach their babies official (non-simplified) signs from "adult" sign language such as American Sign Language rather than Baby Sign.

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