Frequently asked questions about Baby Signing

Many parents have heard of Baby Signing but are often not sure what it’s all about. Here are some frequently asked questions on the subject :

"What is baby signing?"

For many years it has been known that babies can use simple signs or gestures to communicate from an early age, before they can speak. This makes it easier to understand their needs and gives parents and care-givers a unique window into the child’s mind.

"What are the benefits of signing?"

Early communication through signs will help avoid a lot of the frustration babies and parents feel through not being understood by each other. It is something you can learn together and will both enjoy. Several well researched studies have also linked signing to long term benefits such as developing a larger vocabulary, increase in creativity, improved memory, greater self confidence and even a higher IQ.

"So why does it work?"

Signing with your baby stimulates their brain activity, helping them to learn through movement and visualisation. This makes it easier for them to identify and understand words, also to develop a greater understanding through being able to engage in conversations at an early age.

"Wouldn’t using gestures or made up signs work just as well?"

The beauty of using a recognised language such as British Sign Language is that it can be built on as your child grows. Furthermore, it allows both Deaf and hearing children to communicate freely without barriers, something that will be very useful when our children go to school. If all our children are taught different sets of signs and gestures, besides being very difficult to keep up, it could actually break down communication and cause confusion later on.

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"Will it delay my child’s speech if I sign to them?"

No, in fact the opposite is normally true; Speech and Language therapists often recommend baby signing as it accelerates a baby’s speech development. Studies by Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn found signing babies knew on average fifty more spoken words than their non-signing peers at the age of two.

"Is there a certain age you should start signing?"

Babies as young as six months can start to use signs. However they can understand signs a lot earlier that this, so you can start from birth. It’s never too late to start either – children love signing and older ones can benefit by learning signing to give them a head start on literacy skills.

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