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Can Baby Sign Language Delay Speech?

baby sign language
It's a valid question. After all, who wants to work hard teaching baby sign language only to discover it delayed the Mommy! you're dying to hear?

Yes, in the short-run baby signing is a blessing. A signing infant will give you fewer fits of frustration. But is that short-term benefit worth a potential long term harm?

I've taught all my children to sign as babies. They all spoke early. But I'm a gabby girl, and they are all "like their mother". Are they the norm? or the exception?

It's time to bring in the big guns and ask an expert. I asked signing-guru and chief editor of the aptly-named website babysignlanguage.com, Misty Weaver to chime in with some clinical facts and rock-hard information on this topic.

Here's what she shared. I hope it will help shed some light on your baby signing future.

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Baby Sign Language And Speech Development


Child-development experts have been arguing about baby sign language for many years...does teaching baby sign language slow down the process of learning to talk or does it actually speed it up? Or, does Baby Signing have no effect whatsoever? Many experts have found evidence that baby sign language really can be an aid to speech development. Read on to find out more...

How Do Babies Learn To Talk?

    To understand how learning infant sign language can help, it's important to understand how language develops in babies. From an early age, babies try to communicate in many different ways - through facial expressions, by smiling, babbling, crying, moving nearer to Mommy, or using arm gestures. The techniques babies use to communicate their needs are as unique and individual as they are. But there are similarities amongst all babies, and one of these similarities is that they like to use hand gestures before they can actually speak.

How Does Imitation And Repetition Help Speech?

    Babies learn by imitation. Through all forms of interaction - play, quiet time, watching and listening, signing or talking - your baby is learning from you and the world around them. Whether they are learning how to talk, how to sign, or how to interact with others, repetition is one of the ways they learn important messages about how to behave. Sign Language For Babies involves both imitation and repetition, which is why it is so much fun for babies to learn.

How Does Baby Sign Language Help With Communication?

    The most important way to communicate with babies is to let them know you have received their message. Nod, or smile, or pick them up - make sure your response fits whatever your baby is trying to communicate. One of the great things about baby sign language is it gives babies and parents another tool for communication. Studies show that signing does not replace speech, but actually aids its development, by improving a baby's confidence in its ability to communicate.

Confident Babies Are Happy Babies

    Babies who are better able to communicate their needs will develop more confidence than babies who struggle to be understood. This is because every time you respond to your baby in a way which validates his efforts at communication, his confidence in his abilities grows. As your baby's confidence grows, so do his abilities. It is a positive spiral. But the converse is also true - if a baby does not learn that his efforts at communicating are successful, he may either withdraw, or develop more and more extreme ways of getting your attention!

Can Baby Sign Language And Speech Work Together?

    It's important to remember that talking is only one part of communication - for most pre-school children talking is a pretty small part. Children communicate with us and each other through touch, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice, by telling stories and through play. They also instinctively communicate by using hand gestures - such as Baby Signs. Talking is a natural progression for children as they learn to listen to the world around them, and talking to your children, by reading stories and explaining every day activities, is a great way to encourage speech.

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So there you have it. Sign with confidence. It will usher in a peacefully quiet(er) house and a much smarter, talkative growing infant! I'm glad to know that my gabby girls aren't just a product of my own linguistic adventures. Read more about my signing adventures.

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