08 Jul Benefits Of Baby Sign Language: How It Helps You And Your Child Communicate
Parents who find themselves trying to understand what their baby is trying to tell them – with gestures and often tears of frustration – find themselves wishing they had a secret decoder that would alleviate all the communication problems between your sweet bundle of joy and the verbal world around them.
It’s understandable. Nothing is more frustrating or worrisome than knowing your baby needs or wants something, but doesn’t have the skills yet to explain what it is. Most babies don’t even try for their first word until about eight months, but some arrive at it much later. And so they continually struggle to get their messages across to their parents, their nanny, and other caregivers in their world. And far too often, parents find themselves blindly guessing what the message might be – are they hungry? Do they need changing? Are they tired? Or do they just want to be held and cuddled? Going around in an endless loop playing this guessing game becomes tiring for everyone, and baby’s needs and wants can go unanswered for too long a time.
But if you teach your baby sign language, a whole new door opens between you. Suddenly, it’s as though you and your baby are able to communicate in a way you didn’t think possible until they grow to four or five years old.
Baby sign language is not a trend, not a passing fad that parents are talking about on social media but will soon fade away. You, as the parent, must devote time and energy to teaching your baby sign language, but the benefits are numerous. Here is a look at some of them, and why you should get started teaching baby sign language to your little one. It’s definitely worth the time and effort.
1. It reduces their frustrations.
Imagine being somewhere no one spoke your language or understood what you were trying to say. Babies cope with that every minute! Consequently, they cry and wail because they can’t understand why you can’t understand, and their needs are not being met. But if they know the sign for “hungry,” for example, (patting your tummy in circles) suddenly they can reach out to you and get their message across. Just imagine the relief that brings to them – and to you.
2. Studies show baby sign language does not impede verbal skills acquisition.
Some parents worry that teaching their baby signs for things, rather than focusing on verbal development, will cause the baby to delay their learning of words and, ultimately, phrases and sentences. In fact, quite the opposite is proving true. When babies learn signing, they develop a stronger urge to learn other forms of communication, including talking.
3. Baby sign language may help avoid behavioral problems.
When a baby is delayed developing speech, this can lead to issues like tantrums and outbursts, according to experts, because they struggle more than their peers to make themselves understood. Baby sign language offers them an alternative to speech temporarily, so they have no reason to become angry and frustrated.
4. Everyone in the family is happier, especially mom!
The relief that pours over parents when they realize their baby is signing that they are hungry, for example, cannot be understated. No parent wants to feel inadequate for not knowing what their baby needs, and baby sign language fosters the kind of communication that allows those signals to be caught right away. When a baby’s needs are met quickly, everyone is relieved and happy, and baby is satisfied. There is no better feeling for parents!
Once your baby begins to grow and develop verbal skills, they may reveal a waning interest in signing, and that’s just fine. But if they keep their signing going even until age four or five, and only signal you when you two are alone, like you have a private messaging service, that’s fine too! Babies become articulate at profoundly varying rates, to different degrees. Some are speaking in whole sentences by the time they are two or three. Others start school with a little speech hesitancy for a whole host of different reasons. The point is that every baby and child is unique, and how they develop their communication skills is unique, too.
Baby sign language offers a way in, a portal, so to speak, into their world. It gives them (and of course you) a way to be understood, and that makes for a content, satisfied and relaxed baby.
You can enroll in a baby sign language course online, or you can simply invest in a book that teaches baby sign. No matter how you teach your baby sign language and how you learn it yourself, it is bound to make the whole family calmer and more peaceful. And that’s the goal of every happy parent and family, isn’t it?