Over the last 10 years, the practice of teaching babies sign language has become a more popular option among parents. Some parents wonder if teaching sign language discourages proper speech development or stunts communication growth in other ways. Research has been done on the practice of teaching sign language to babies and found that sign language can actually be very beneficial to children, as well as their caregivers, in many ways. As East Valley pediatric urgent care providers who work with children all day long, our AllKids staff encourages parents and caregivers to explore this learning option to see if it is right for your child or family. The researched benefits include:
Children love the attention and physical touch of their caregivers. Sign language requires more eye contact and physical contact, which in turn helps the child and caregiver develop a stronger bond. This method of speaking and learning will teach children to make eye contact with people when they speak and build healthy associations in their mind about communication.
The best time to begin signing to a child is when they are between 4 and 8 months old. A child’s motor skills do not develop until they are about 6 to 8 months old, but the earlier they begin to see and recognize common signs such as “milk”, “mommy”, “daddy”, “diaper”, and “bed”, the faster they will be able to communicate once they’ve developed those skills. When your child begins signing back to you, start introducing more signs for them to learn. The more signs your child learns, the more specific they can be in communicating their needs.
Decrease in Tantrums
The main cause of fussing and child frustration is their lack of ability to communicate what they need. Imagine yourself needing food, water, or feeling sick, and not having any faculties to understand or communicate to others what is happening to you!
Teaching babies hand signs for their bare necessities gives them a means of communication that they can start using even before their verbal functions have developed.
There is no downside to teaching children sign language. It improves their ability to communicate and reinforces language and speech development. Signs also give children an access to describing things around them that might be difficult to say before their speech centers are fully developed.
Watching your child learn is fascinating. Seeing their first sign is just as exciting as hearing their first word. The bond you build with a child and the time you take to teach them are also a priceless benefit of teaching your baby sign language.
AllKids is an east valley pediatric urgent care that believes that all kids deserve the best. Ensure your child gets the best care when they need it most by bringing them to AllKids Mesa or Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care centers in their time of need. We are open daily from 12pm to 10pm.