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Thursday, December 2

Sign Language And Speech Development

I was recently approached by Misty at Baby Sign Language to ask if I’d like to host a guest post on the topic of baby signing. I took two years of American Sign Language in high school (and loved it) so, naturally, we used sign with Lucy. It was awesome. Do you know how convenient it is to have a baby who can tell you they have a wet diaper? It’s very convenient. Lucy seemed to grow out of signing once she found verbal words (she’s a talker, just like her mum was/is)! But sign really helped us as parents before she learned to communicate with spoken language. That’s why I was very happy to accept Misty’s offer to guest post. I was fortunate enough to have a background in signing. But if you don’t then you should add Baby Sign Language to your bookmarks folder straight away. And now, without further ado, here’s Misty:

Sign Language And Speech Development

Babies communicate in many different ways. Even though they can’t talk, their repertoire is vast. Through facial expressions, crying, babbling, or moving nearer to Mommy they make their needs known. The ways in which babies communicate their needs are as individual and special as they are. Baby sign language can help a baby’s communication – it is a two-way thing, from mommy to baby and back again.

How Babies Learn To Talk

One of the best ways to encourage language development is to simply talk to your baby. Babies learn by imitation and repetition. Whether he is playing, watching or listening, your baby is learning from you and from the world around him. Imitation and repetition are important if he is to develop any new skill – how to talk, how to sign, or just how to interact with the world.

Baby Sign Language gives babies and parents another tool for communication. Many studies show that Baby Signing does not replace speech, but actually aids its development, by improving a baby’s confidence in his ability to communicate. Speech plays a very small part in communication before the age of two, but baby sign language can play a big part in communication from a very young age.

Communication And The Confident Child

Babies who able to communicate their needs successfully will become more confident than babies who struggle to be understood. Every time you respond to your baby correctly – validating his efforts at communication – his confidence grows. As your baby’s confidence grows, so does his ability to communicate. This is a positive spiral. Sadly the opposite is also true – when a baby is not shown that his efforts at communication are working, he may withdraw. Some babies go on to develop very extreme ways of getting your attention – also known as tantrums!

Responding To Your Baby

To help with speech development, babies need to know you have received their messages when they try to communicate with you. Nod, smile, or pick him up, but make sure your response fits what your baby is trying to communicate.

Does Baby Sign Language Interfere With Speech Development?

The short answer is no! Talking is only one small part of communication. For pre-school children it is often only a small part of their range of skills. Children – and adults – communicate with each other through touch, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice. Babies instinctively communicate by using hand gestures. Learning baby sign language can help your baby make sense of the world in this natural way.

Speech development is a natural progression for children as they listen to what’s going on around them. Talking to your baby, reading stories, explaining every day chores and activities, are positive ways to encourage speech. Adding sign language gives your baby another tool for communication. There is no evidence to suggest that Sign Language For Babies slows down speech development – but the opposite may in fact be true.

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