At 6 months babies are capable of understanding and communicating but their ability to speak doesn’t develop till they’re 12 to 18 months. That’s where the signs come in. From as early as 6 months, babies can make signs to let you know what they’re thinking. So the earlier you start, the earlier you can ‘talk’ to your baby.
Question: What is baby signing?
Question: Was baby signing developed for deaf children?
No. Baby signing was developed for hearing babies and hearing parents. However, it is also useful with deaf and hearing-impaired children as it is based on established sign language. Child behaviour experts also recommend it for use with special needs children.
Question: But surely mothers know what their babies want, don’t they?
Mothers will usually have a pretty good idea what their babies want when they cry. But wouldn’t it be so much better to know what they want before they become so frustrated that they start crying? If they could sign, they’d tell you, you know.
Question: So baby signing reduces crying, then?
Yes, but that’s really only part of the story. Signing allows babies to share their thoughts with you, to tell you what they’ve seen or, perhaps, just to tell you which toy they want to play with next. These are just brief moments in your child’s development but you’ll miss so much if you wait till they can talk to tell you about it.
Question: Is there an ideal time to begin signing?
Your baby will be capable of learning signs from the age of six months. It will not be detrimental to start earlier but there will be a correspondingly longer period to wait before your baby starts to sign. This is due to the need for your baby to develop memory and co-ordination to recognize, remember and make the signs. However, it is never too late to start signing.
Question: How long will it take for our baby to produce the signs?
All babies (and parents) are different and several factors will dictate the time it takes for your baby to start to sign. These factors are discussed in greater detail in the Babysigners book, and range from the age of your baby to how frequently parents and / or carers use the signs. The consistent use of a few signs on a daily basis has proved to be a key method for success.
Question: Why is our baby not signing even after we have been using signs for a while?
The speed at which babies learn to use signs can depend on their age. They will be able to start learning signs from as young as six months but will usually take a few weeks to start signing back to you. Older babies will tend to be able to pick it up faster.
It can take a while for a baby to become confident enough to sign but as long as you keep reinforcing the signs during your daily routine your baby will start to sign.
Question: But if they’re signing, won’t that delay talking?
No. Just the opposite, in fact. All the research shows that learning to communicate earlier gives babies a real head start in life – especially talking. They’ll start to talk earlier and develop their vocabulary faster than non-signing babies. And the longest running research study available has shown that, even at the age of eight, they’ll still be significantly ahead of their classmates.
Question: So there’s a lot of research then?
Masses. And it’s very positive too. We’d be happy to guide you in the right direction if you want to read up on it. You could start by taking a look at the history and research section of this website.
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