Teach Your Baby to Sign

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Article Courtesy of About.com

Is there anything cuter than seeing a little baby using sign language? It is more than just cute: Researchers have found that using sign language with babies does help to improve their language learning and IQs. So more parents are using sign language with their infants, whether they are hearing or deaf.

It has long been known by parents of deaf children and deaf parents of hearing children that young babies can learn to sign and communicate before they learn to talk.

Baby Signing Does Not Hurt Speech Development

One of the best things about this trend being embraced by parents of non-deaf children is that research has clearly demonstrated that using sign language does not mean that a child will not learn to talk. For years, the deaf community’s ASL advocates had to face the argument that if parents used sign language with their deaf children, the children would not learn to talk. Even today, some parents of deaf children with cochlear implants are told not to use sign language so that their children will maximize the use of sound for communication. {pagebreak}

Baby Signing Does Have Educational Benefits

Several articles have been published on the use of sign language with babies. For example, there was a study involving two groups of children—one group that was taught baby signing and another group that was not. The researchers found that eight-year-olds who had learned a simple form of baby sign language using invented signs did better on IQ tests than comparable children who had not learned baby sign language.

Babies Can Use Real American Sign Language

Some parents have objected to the use of "made-up" signs instead of using the more official American Sign Language. Either will be useful, and anything that encourages the acceptance of sign language for communication is welcome. But keep in mind there is no need for parents to rely on a different form of sign language when there is plenty of video and book material available for learning American Sign Language.


Baby Sign Language Online

  • SigningTime.com, has videos for all ages (and the website offers video samples).
  • ASL Pro has an ASL for Babies dictionary online, with video clips of adults signing.

Plus, there are online sign language dictionaries available for quick and easy reference. These dictionaries have either video/animation clips or clear illustrations, so that there is no misunderstanding about how to make a sign.

Baby Sign Language Books

Gallaudet University Press publishes two popular books for toddlers, Word Signs  and Animal Signs. More books are on the top picks page for baby sign language books.


Baby Sign Language Companies and Classes

There has been explosive growth in the number of companies promoting baby sign language. Most of the companies offer video, print, and online resources for baby signing. A sampling of baby sign language companies and their offerings (disclaimer: Inclusion in this listing is not an endorsement):

  • SignBabies.com offers illustrated flash cards.  Another set of flashcards is the Signing Smart series.
  • BabySigns.com has instructors offering classes nationally. The company also sells products such as a puppet, and a video series covering bedtime, mealtime, bathtime, and pets.
  • Signing4Babies.com sells an e-book on baby sign.
  • Kindersigns.com offers classes, a newsletter, and professional certification.

Baby sign language classes are increasingly popular. They are offered by private certified instructors, colleges, resource centers for deaf and hard of hearing people, recreation departments, and other community resources.


Baby Sign Language Community Websites

Baby signing community websites like Signing With Your Baby offer FAQs, articles, message boards, and discussion lists.  Another community site is Babies and Sign Language.com.  This site offers a master list of baby signing classes in the United States, and internationally. Plus, there is an advice column for parents, "Dear Mama Signs."


Young babies can learn to sign and communicate before they learn to talk. Here’s how.

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