Benefits of Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

Learn how to enhance communication and improve the relationship with your baby.

When I first learned about the idea of teaching babies sign language as a new mother, I was doubtful it was possible, much less beneficial. I had many other concerns with my oldest child and decided not to focus on sign language.

As time went on, I considered the idea of teaching sign language to my child again. Since teaching sign language is encouraged in the On Becoming Babywise books, however, I decided to give it a go. Babywise hadn't failed me yet!

Babywise didn't fail me in sign language, either. I found many benefits with using sign language with my babies. It worked so well with my first child that I used sign language with all four of my babies. Here are the benefits we enjoyed.

Baby Sign Language Cuts Down on Tantrums

When my oldest was a pre-toddler, I noticed he would get very frustrated if he couldn't get something done just right. This would lead to frustration on his part, and his most effective way to communicate that frustration was to have a tantrum. I taught him to sign the word "help" instead of have a fit. This little signed word changed our days dramatically. Instead of having a tantrum, he would sign help (not always patiently or cheerfully, but he would do it).

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As he used this tool, he learned that signing for help was more conducive to achieving his goal than the fit was. A "help" got him what he really needed--help. A tantrum was not met with help from mom. Because of that, his tantrums cut down.

This idea can be applied to anything your child is having a tantrum about. Teach the sign language to help your child learn how to communicate the issue through productive methods rather than tantrums. A very common reason for tantrums with these little ones is because they feel misunderstood. Sign language helps them communicate exactly what they need or want.

To read more on responding to young tantrums and how sign language helps, click the link to read my post on the Screaming Non-verbal Baby or Toddler.

Baby Sign Language Cuts Down on Whining

Whining and tantrums could be lumped together, but any parent who deals with both understands that each deserves its own focus point.

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SHOP: "Let's Learn Sign Language" Kit 

Baby Sign Language Enhances Communication

Along that line, sign language enhances communication. When my babies were done eating, they could sign all done. Instead of arching the back, throwing food off the tray, or screaming, the baby signed "all done." I then responded with something like, "Oh you are all done? Okay let's get you down."

We understood each other better.
My baby knew she was communicating and getting a response.
Communication was effective.

It helped the baby learn the benefits of communication and focus went into learning how to communicate something through methods other than screaming or fits.

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When I was a first time mom looking into using sign language, I read some theories from parents that sign language delayed or even hindered language development, but I have not seen any evidence of that being the case.

SHOP: American Sign Language Cards

My children all communicate well and the three old enough for evaluations have all been labeled as gifted in the language arts. I believe the sign language helped them learn to communicate back and forth at an early age and enhanced their language development.

All children can comprehend more than they can express. Your baby understands far more words than she is capable of saying. Your first grader can listen to you read a book on a higher reading level than she can read independently and comprehend the meaning.

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Sign language is a way to tap in to that understanding before the baby is developmentally capable of verbalizing the words. There are even some studies that have come out that suggest using sign language with babies increases a child's IQ, vocabulary, reading level, and grades.

Baby Sign Language Gives Your Child Some Control

Your baby, pre-toddler, or toddler can often feel helpless. He knows what he wants to say, but he can't say it. It leaves him feeling powerless and frustrated. Offering a way for your child to communicate his wants and needs helps him feel more in control and less at your mercy and ability to decipher his meaning. This doesn't mean you cater to every request, but it does mean the request can be communicated.

Baby Sign Language Improves Your Relationship

Communicating with a person enhances your relationship. When your baby is communicating with you and you are acknowledging and responding to that communication, it just helps you be closer to each other. You get to know your child better and recognize her as an individual.

Sign language is absolutely worth the time and effort it takes to establish it. For help getting started, read my post on How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language.

Valerie Plowman

Valerie Plowman

Valerie Plowman is a Babywise Mom of four children and blogs at Read her latest book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, for help on getting perfect naps.

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