In short, yes! Teaching sign language to your baby can help you tremendously. Sign language gives you the ability to communicate with your child before they are able to understand words and associate meanings with them. Teaching sign language to your child may very well help them to communicate back, their feelings, wants and needs even before they are verbal.
There was a time when it was debated whether teaching sign language to very young children impaired their ability to learn and be vocal but research and experience both have proven that not to be the case. On the contrary, sign language for babies and toddlers improves their ability to communicate and increases their confidence at a very early age.
With ASL, it is actually not so difficult to learn and/or teach sign language quickly and effectively. For babies and toddlers, in particular, you can check out our online course Babies & Toddlers Sign Language
Some of the key benefits of teaching sign language to your toddler are:
Strengthen the Parent-Child Bond
Teaching sign language to your baby can help bridge the verbal gap between you and your baby, it gives you a peek into their thoughts and personality, which can really strengthen the parent-child bond, says Michelle Macias M.D. for Parents.
WebMD suggests beginning to teach sign language around 6 months, though your child likely won’t truly start signing until around 8 months.
Did you know that tantrums are most likely caused by a lack of understanding and communication between your child and yourself? This is really important for first-time parents as they fail to understand why the baby is crying most of the time and being unable to properly communicate with the baby further hinders any progress. This usually ends up in a lot of frustration on the parents’ part, and a lot of crying on the baby’s’ part.
It’s proven that children who learn sign language as babies are able to more effectively communicate their emotions, such as anger or frustration, through sign. A lot of the times that babies start nagging are when they are not able to communicate or when the parent is not really understanding the problem. The ability to understand and to be understood plays an important role in the psychological well-being of the child.
A side effect of that is that children who learn sign language are oftentimes happier and more confident, says Psychcentral.
QUALITY TIME FOR YOU TOO
Teaching and learning sign language can be fun for both you and the baby. Often times, when the baby is so young, apart from the general nurture and care, parents don’t really know what to do spend some quality time with the kid. There’s not a lot of activities you can do with them that are engaging and involving both ways. Teaching sign language for babies can turn out to be a highly engaging and rewarding activity. Just be sure to a little patient at the start soon you’ll be spending some great quality time speaking in ASL.
Many parents say that the process of teaching how to sign involves a lot of eye contact and touching. We often feel more connected to someone when they touch us, says Psychology Today.
This means that it is quality time both ways as you are able to better understand and communicate with your child. You will also notice that this will act as an amazing stress reliever for you too. Spending quality time with toddlers has proven to release happy chemicals in our brains and help with overall mental well-being too.
“I seriously have no clue what’s wrong!” is a thought that so many parents across the globe think in the middle of a meltdown.
Through sign, a child will be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong. Does their belly hurt? Are they hungry? Whatever it maybe – there’s a sign for it.
Additionally, the improved communication can actually help you. You’ll be able to identify your child’s distress before they identify it themselves. Even when you find yourself in the middle of a meltdown – you’ll have an easier time communicating and resolving the issue.
BETTER COGNITIVE BEHAVIOUR
Teaching sign language for babies has a proven link to enhanced and improved over-all cognitive functionality. Memorizing signs and repeating them strengthens brain function and memory. Children who were taught sign language also tend to learn speech and other languages early on. Hence, contrary to popular belief, learning sign language for babies doesn’t impact spoken languages’ learning negatively, but in fact, enhances it.
BETTER ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Not only has it been proven with autistic and hard of hearing children, but also in other babies that learning sign language helps them pay more attention to the body language of others around them making them keen observers and better overall communicators.
If you are looking for a course designed specifically for babies then check out our Babies & Toddlers Sign Language course. A word of advice would be, when trying out for the first time, take your time and don’t rush it. Being patient and persistent, you’ll start noticing the baby responding back in only a matter of weeks.