Many new parents use baby sign language to encourage early communication with their infant. Specialized gestures meaning "hungry," "thirsty" and "more" are some of the most utilized. With all of the books, classes, and apps on the market today for baby sign language, it’s important for parents to know there is really no evidence that a baby will speak sooner or have a boosted IQ like some products suggest.
According to Gwen Dewar, an evolutionary anthropologist and author of the website Parenting Science, the best ways to communicate with babies is to make eye contact when you're talking and engage in conversation. Talk to your baby just like you would an old friend. Then, interpret your baby’s looks and gestures. When parents tune into the mind of the baby and really try to imagine themselves in the baby's perspective babies learn things really fast.
"There's something called mind-minded parenting, and that simply realizing from the very beginning when your baby is born that this is an autonomous being who has a mind, and is intelligent and not just an object that needs care. And so when parents start out with just assuming that their babies have independent minds, that's really the key — it's really pretty simple," says Dewar.
While baby sign language can be a valuable tool for parents and babies, the question is do you need classes, books, and apps to achieve this level of communication, or can you let it develop naturally?