Monday, March 02, 2015

What The Heck is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign language...is it fad? Is it a trend? I've been teaching parents to sign with their children for over 15 years and WeeHands has been around since 2001. I'm not sure what the actual definition of a "fad" is but I'm pretty sure we've gone far beyond whatever length of time is attributed to a fad.


Why baby sign language? What is Baby Sign Language?

Basically, baby sign language is a way for your baby to communicate with you - with their hands - before clear speech develops. Just as a baby learns to wave "bye-bye" a baby can learn to sign "milk", "mommy", "water", "dog" and even, "I love you"!

WeeHands teaches parents to use key American Sign Language vocabulary or signs, paired with their speech, when interacting with their little ones. For example, when a parent gives their baby a drink of water, that parent would sign and say the word, WATER. When giving their baby a bath, a parent would also sign and say the word, WATER. Eventually, the baby will learn to sign "WATER" either to make a comment about or to request water when they want some using the ASL sign for water!


Using motivating and functional American Sign Language signs to represent items, activities and even feelings, you and your baby can begin to communicate clearly, earlier than first spoken words, reducing frustration for both of you. In general, first spoken words come between 11 and 12 months of age while first signs can come between 9 and 10 months of age. Your baby wants to communicate well before first words come and baby sign language allows them to!


Benefits of Using Baby Sign Language

We asked recently on our facebook page the question, "Why do you sign with your baby?" and here are some of the benefits that parents shared:

  1. baby sign language allows baby to be understood before speech develops
  2. babies and toddlers learning to say have better fine motor skills
  3. baby sign language is another wonderful way to be able to bond with your child
  4. American Sign Language is a beautiful second language
  5. babies and toddlers who are able to sign have fewer frustrations which means less stress for all!
  6. communication using signs is so much easier for babies who can't speak yet
There you are just a few wonderful reasons to using sign language with your baby! Are you signing with your baby? What benefits are you seeing?

Sara Bingham is the author of The Baby Signing Book and the founder of WeeHands. Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential.

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