When the news just has to present the controversial side to things it just makes me crazy! Child development experts need to back up what they state with research.
Babies who are signed and spoken to learn listen and watch their parents for information about what's going on in their world. Babies who are signed to receive information both visually and auditorily. This is helpful when you are learning language. Babies do need to learn to respond in a reciprocal way and in every WeeHands class our qualified Instructors, many of whom are speech-language pathologists, teach parents that one of the key building blocks to language development is turn-taking. Along with ASL signs, we teach parents to encourage turn-taking in a conversation.
Just because a baby can communicate "I WANT" or "GIVE ME MORE" clearly doesn't mean that a parent can or will be able to respond to that request each and every time. But if a baby can request MILK by signing MILK and it's not possible at the time, it creates an opportunity for the parent to say "MILK ALL DONE" or "MILK FINISHED" and offer an alternative "WATER?" or "BOOK!" This creates opportunities to connect with your child "YES, but MILK is FINISH. Let's read a BOOK or let's look at the FISH". This creates opportunities to teach language.
When I'm asked about when to start signing, I say whenever the parents are comfortable to start regardless of the age of the baby. I also share that most babies in our classes are between 4 and 8 months when they start our 2-month class.
The video incorrectly suggests starting later. Waiting til child can gesture at 7-8 months, e.g., wave bye-bye, doesn't make sense to me. Parents teach that gesture, babies are not born knowing that the correct way to wave is in North America, we teach them! Just as we can teach them that signs have meaning.
When a baby's brain develops the area that understands visual information develops sooner than the area that understands auditory information, so a baby may be able to understand what they see earlier than they can understand what they hear.
Capone, N.C. & McGregor, K.K. (2004). Gesture Development: A Review for Clinical and Research Practices. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, February 2004, 47, 1, 173. Retrieved June 28, 2006 from ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health Source.