5 {Compelling} Reasons to Teach Your Child Baby Sign Language

My first baby, Sofía, learned many baby signs and still uses some of them at nearly 3 years old. Her younger sister, Bella, on the other hand, has learned very little and I regret not taking the time to teach her like I did with Sofía. Bella is probably the one that could use it more than Sofía because she still only has about 3 or 4 words to her vocabulary (ok, probably a ton more but they are all incomprehensible!) at 17 months. Fortunately, Bella can usually tell us what she wants just by pointing at it, but there are times when she cries and I’m not sure why she is crying. These are the times I wish I had spent more time teaching her the basics at least.

Teaching baby sign language comes with many benefits for both the child and the parents. Here are some compelling reasons why you might want to teach your baby some signs!It’s up for debate whether or not baby sign language can actually affect a child’s IQ score. There is also some speculation that baby sign language delays speech because the child doesn’t need to speak if he can get what he wants by using his hands.

I personally never started teaching baby sign language to my daughter to turn her into some genius. I also don’t believe the speech delay argument, obviously, because she started speaking before she signed her first word, and my second daughter has yet to speak and I haven’t taught her hardly any baby signs. I don’t believe the purpose of baby sign language is to make a child smarter, nor do I believe it puts them behind on the language scale.

5 {Compelling} Reasons to Teach Baby Sign Language

I think if you want to teach your baby sign language, you should do it for the following reasons:

To lessen or eliminate frustration

Young children, especially toddlers, will cry, throw tantrums, and generally just get frustrated if they are not understood. If your child can communicate his needs and desires through sign language, you will not have to deal with many of these meltdowns.

To bond with your child

Sitting down one-on-one with your child to teach her some signs each day can become a very special time for the two of you. It is very important to share something with your child each day.

Although I haven’t spent much time signing with Bella, we have plenty of action songs we love to sing. She will sit in my lap and I will hold her hands and help her do the actions for the song. It helps our relationship by doing something together that we both enjoy.

So your child can tell you about the world around him

Baby sign language can open up a world of expression that your baby might not otherwise have had access to without it. If you teach him enough signs, your child can tell you what’s on his mind. If you took a walk to a neighbor’s house, for example, and saw a bird on the way, he can tell you about that bird a few hours later when it’s on his mind. If he doesn’t speak and he doesn’t know sign language, he can’t share his thoughts with you about the bird.

This is one of the biggest reasons I wish I had taught more signs to Bella. She babbles a mile-a-minute, and I can tell that she thinks she is making complete sense, but I often just have to nod and say, “Uh-huh!” It would be so great to know what she is thinking instead of completely blowing her off.

So your child can learn to use the potty before she can talk

Even if your child doesn’t learn very many signs, she can learn signs like “potty,” “diaper,” and “pee” to help you potty train her before she can speak.

My mom gave me a book all about how to potty train your child before she turns 2 by using baby sign language. I didn’t use it because we waited until Sofía was already talking to potty train her, but it might be useful when we start trying to potty train Bella.

For fun!

Action songs are so much fun for kids of any age. Starting at 8 or 9 months up until they go to kindergarten, most kids are going to give you their undivided attention if you are singing an action song. It’s the perfect way to get all the wiggles out! That’s why I believe signing is such a fun activity for kids.

My girls both light up whenever I sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” or “The Wheels on the Bus.” Bella has been trying her hardest lately to do many of the signs when we sing these songs and it’s adorable!

If you want to be able to communicate early with your child, baby sign language is the perfect activity to try. Not only will it lessen frustration, but it can also help you bond with your child and give her the means to express herself. It’s a great way to teach him how to use the potty before he can speak and it’s just fun in general. I think I’ll turn a new leaf and start spending time each day with Bella to teach her some signs. It’s really never too late to start signing with your baby!

Are you more convinced that baby sign language would be a great activity for you and your child?

Read my post about getting started with baby sign language so you can start today!

Source: “Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You,” by Jane Collingwood on PsychCentral.

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Comments

  1. Awww, what a cutie pie! I didn’t realize that our youngest girls were so close in age. My daughter is 16 months. We taught our first two sign language, and it was a benefit. The rest we haven’t taught. I think we just got too busy? I also just got better at knowing what they want (although I’m sure I still mess that up a lot). I love the idea of it though, I can see how it would cause some really beneficial brain connections.

    • I just love this age, don’t you? Once 18 months hits, I wish time could reverse for a while until they turn 4!! Ha! I bet you did get too busy, because it does take a conscious effort to teach baby sign language.

  2. Hmm. Interesting. Ive heard of this before but have never met a baby “talking” sign language. Im already too late on that, my youngest is already 4..

  3. I taught sign language to all my Kindergarteners and Preschoolers, but then when my son was born, I wasn’t nearly as intentional. We’re working on it more now. More is his favorite sign, of course!

  4. Oh, Charl, I want to give you a great big hug right now. Your daughter sounds like a beautiful soul and I hope you have many wonderful memories of her. So sorry for your loss. We love to sign for fun! Signing songs is one of our favorite activities! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. ♥

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