Communicating and growing close with your baby is one of the greatest joys of a new mother. I’ve discovered sign language by chance, in my bid to try to find a video to occupy my baby with eczema who is always scratching. I picked up a baby sign language video in the library, and to my surprise, doing (or trying to do!) signs have actually distracted my baby from scratching her eczema skin. There are many benefits to learning sign language for your baby, and my favorite top five are:
Mommy finally knows what I need! The mouth muscles of a baby are not yet developed for speech, but their fingers’ motor skills develop earlier. With learning sign language, starting with the basic signs like milk and sleep, the baby is able to communicate with his/her mommy (and daddy), thereby reducing tantrums and frustration.
I know many words! Signing a word involves reading/watching it, signing and even singing to it (for videos that have songs and signing at the same time). This multi-sensory approach may aid memory retention, thus increasing the number of words known by the baby. It can help to build the baby’s confidence because they already know the word and what it meant, and for my baby, she actually teaches other schoolmates the alphabet signs!
My fingers are moving as I want them to! We all desire to communicate and likewise, for babies, they’d try to do the signs so that they can talk to you. With all that signing, the motor skills of their fingers improve.
I love my Mommy and Daddy. The ability to communicate builds a bond, and to my family, it has been a very fun time learning sign language together. The other side benefit is that there is less shouting, because ‘No’ is said using sign language in our house!
I know another language. Sign language is a proper language, not some make-up signs only known by your family but a real language used by many. When searching for sign language, check that the version you are learning is the one most commonly used in your area/country. Volunteering with the deaf association is on my family to-do list when my baby grows up!
There are some parents who are afraid that learning sign language will slow speech development, as the baby is already satisfied with signing and sees no need to talk. This has not been proven. Instead, signing enhances the learning of language as the baby already has an idea of the word he/she wants to say. It should not be used though to exclude alternate caregivers who do not know the sign language; for my family, we mostly communicate close to bedtime as that corresponds with the time that my baby scratches most often.
For those new to sign language, pick up a video from your library or check out the many videos that are available online. I can honestly say that learning sign language with my baby has made my stay-at-home mom time a wonderful, less stressful experience.