Even if your child is not hearing impaired, I would highly recommend introducing sign language to your baby. This gives your baby another way to communicate before they have the words to do so and can also be an important tool later on in life.
Who knows what they might encounter in a work place or school setting where the situation may call for some sign language skills. Aside from giving your child an early means of communication, there are many benefits of teaching babies sign language.
Even if your child only knows a few signs or the alphabet, this can still be a huge help. For purposes of this post, I’m covering ASL or American Sign Language.
When can babies learn sign language?
I’m not sure where or why I developed an interest in learning sign language, but I do remember having several sign language books and dictionaries as a child. I also remember watching Linda Bove on Sesame Street and wondering what she was doing with her hands.
Sign language, to me, has always been a source of fascination rather than a means of communication.
But now, with Sweet B being largely non-verbal, sign language has also become a means of communication. She can understand basic sign language and I can communicate with her using sign language. This has been a huge help at home as it gives her a way to express her wants and needs.
Likewise, with a baby that hasn’t yet developed their vocabulary, simple sign language can give them a means of communication. By starting with signs such as “more”, “eat”, “please”, “drink”, and “sleep” you are providing your baby a way to functionally communicate with you.
No it won’t always be easy and consistency is definitely key. But by starting early, you’re giving your baby a small measure of independence.
How can you teach sign language to babies?
You can also incorporate sign language into teaching the alphabet by signing along while you sing. I do this with Squeaker and I’ve noticed that she pays just as much attention to my fingers as she does to my mouth.
I’m interested to see if or when she’ll start signing along with me.
My knowledge of sign language is limited and while I would love to say that I’m fluent… I’m far from it. But that doesn’t stop me from teaching Squeaker in our every day routines. For example, I’ll sign “good morning” to her in addition to saying it to her. I’ll sign “more” or “please” and use other signs in appropriate settings.
She hasn’t quite caught on with it yet, but that’s also my own fault for not being consistent with her.
You can start introducing sign language with your baby as early as six months. Or you can wait until your baby is a little bit older, around 16 to 18 months of age, and start then. It’s up to you as to when you start.
Benefits of teaching sign languages to babies
BabySignLanguage.com lists the following reasons:
*practical (less frustration and more fun),
*emotional (closer bonding with parents),
*cognitive (boost brain development)
Here are some helpful resources for introducing sign language:
* ASL For Infants and Toddlers
* Baby Einstein- My First Signs
* Baby Sign Language- Top 20 Signs
The following links are affiliate links for your convenience.
Free Printable ASL ALphabet Posters
Well, really just one printable with a variation too it. I’m offering up a sign language alphabet printable (standard printer paper size). One is just the signs and other other includes signs with the letters underneath it. Print on card stock to make it last longer.
With Letters || Without Letters
And if you’re in need of more free printables, don’t forget to check out my ASL Printable Flashcards!
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I have done sign language with all three of my children. It is awesome to be able to communicate with them before they can talk. I think it also helps develop their language at an early age. Thanks for sharing this great article:)
yeah, I think so too. There are definitely a lot of great things that can come from teaching sign language early.
When my youngest was in early intervention for a speech delay, the therapist used sign language to help him learn.
This is great! A lot of the cartoons my son watches incorporate sign language into them, I’ve even learnt some myself from watching them with him.
That’s really neat 🙂 I think everyone should try to learn a little sign language.
Though I am not a mom yet this is so interesting!
I’ve learned (through school, I’m not a mom or even close to being one) that it is so important to teach babies languages while they are still young. I remember they tried to teaches sign language in preschool. I can still do the whole alphabet <3
I actually worked in childcare and sign language was incorporated in a lot of curriculums we used! It was a lot of fun teaching the little ones ASL and I even started using sign language with my daughter when she was a baby. We weren’t consistent but she still knew a few signs!
It’s always great to teach children different ways of communicating. Thanks for the educational post!
I do think that signing can be very helpful! My daughter could sign a few things before she could talk.
Great information. I agree that sign language is a good thing for babies to learn so they can communicate before they can talk.
IN general, teaching a child another language is great; they absorb it and learn so fast!
This is such a smart thing to do, it would be great for the child to also speak sign language!
This is interesting to me indeed. I had a friends years ago that was teaching her babies sign language and I think it is an awesome thing to due. It hurts no child to learn different language in my opinion.
My middle son was non-verbal till after he was 4…so he was taught sign at his daycare. The only problem I had was trying to keep up with learning what he was learning so I knew what he was trying to communicate. That was a rough time, but I’m so glad now that he’s older he still remembers some and is able to communicate with another little boy at church. 😀
That’s awesome 🙂 I don’t remember a lot of it, but enough that I can teach my youngest some basic signs and the alphabet. That’s really neat that he’s communicating with another little boy.
I think it’s really cool to expand the different ways in which a child can communicate. Also, I think it really helps kids who have speech difficulties. Plus…it;s fun. I learned the alphabet in sign language, and I felt good that I knew it.
I’m so glad you are writing about sign language instruction for little ones!! Sign language is very important for infants as most infants are too young to be diagnosed with childhood learning disorders. If they have a bank of sign words or are familiar with sign they will be that much ahead in early intervention. I started at 3mos with my kids. My oldest is 20 and gifted my 6 year old son was diagnosed with Autism. He had words but regressed and stop talking. Luckily he had retained the sign words. Sign benefits all types of children. Can’t say… Read more »
I cannot tell enough people how awesome ASL with babies is. I started learning with my oldest when she was 5mo old, and it helped so much. We actively continued to learn even after she could talk. Because of this, my second baby (13mo) easily has 50 plus signs that she can use. It’s just plain amazing. She can tell me that she knows what animal is under the flaps in her lift the flap books, she can tell me what she wants to eat, where she wants to go, who she hears, what she sees – she’s totally part… Read more »