There's a great discussion over at WebMD regarding baby sign language. I love this discussion regarding signing with young children. There are no studies that say that signing with hearing babies and toddlers delays speech. I search for these studies each year and only find studies that support the use of sign language and gestures with babies and toddlers.
When you sign with your baby you want to get down to their level, focus on key words, slow down your speech and repeat, repeat, repeat. If you were learning a new language, think how helpful these strategies would be!
To start signing with your baby with use 10-12 signs that cover items that you baby likes as well as activities that you do every day with your baby. Always sign and say the words with your baby. Sign and say the word before your baby gets an object/item, e.g., before giving MILK; sign and say the word several times while your baby is interacting with the object, e.g., while drinking MILK; sign and say the word when the item or activity is over, e.g., MILK all done!
Every parent should sign with their baby! Remember to sign the word as you say it and to use keys American Sign Language signs to narrate your child’s world!
We're building a baby sign language dictionary on our website, www.weehands.com. It should be ready in a week or so.