What is Baby Sign language?

What if parents could understand completely what their child wants or needs with out guessing? Wouldn't it be nice if a parent could communicate with their child before their child could even speak? Well now they can! Through what is known as “Baby sign language” (BSL). This type of sign language is used specifically for the purpose of communication with babies or infants who do not have the capability to verbally communicate with their caregivers (Collingwood, 2013). Experts have concluded that when a parent or a guardian teaches the baby signing techniques it helps diminish the irritation and frustration that babies have when they cannot communicate verbally. With that being said, the baby cries less and throws less tantrums (Collingwood, 2013). Parents who teach their child baby sign language believe that it will be beneficial to their child's linguistic, emotional, and intellectual development (Pizer, Walters,& Meier, 2007).

Benefits of Baby Sign Language

Teaching your child baby sign language early on helps the bonding of the child and the parents, enhances the child's self-esteem and potentially helps not only control the tantrums as a baby, but also while the child is in the “terrible twos” stage (Berck, 2004). As with all types of language, baby sign language is something that is taught by instruction. The difference between teaching a physical language, such as sign language, and verbal is that with physical language people can be manually prompted, making the language slightly easier to teach. According to, Joseph Garcia(sign language interpreter) he conducted a study where he exposed babies of ages six to seven months to sign language regularly and constantly. His results found that when the baby is exposed to sign language regularly and constantly at the ages of six or seven month the baby will be able to effectively use the sign language by eight or nine months (Collingwood, 2013).

Teaching Babies Signs

Teaching your child baby sign language is very easy. There does not need to be any specific time set aside to teach a child sign language. Instead the parents just need to continuously make the proper hand gesture while repeating the word that the gesture is used for (Bevinetto, 2013). And example being: while giving child their bottle, do the proper sign for milk while saying milk (Bevinetto, 2013). The art of baby sign language can be taught and understood by children as early as six months old. The signs that are taught are basic communications that a child needs in order to survive. A few of the signed communications are for: thirsty, milk, water, hungry, sleepy, hot, cold, and bathing/changing. Of course there are a few signs that can be taught which don't apply to survival needs like: play, more, teddy bear, and pacifier (Collingwood, 2013).

A frequent worry of parents is that if they teach their baby sign language it will delay their child from speaking their native language. This is completely false, in fact research has shown that children who learn baby sign language have a bigger vocabulary by age 2 then children who did not learn baby sign language (Bevinetto, 2013). Not only does baby sign language broaden the child's vocabulary, but this also allows for the child to be bilingual in ASL(Pizer, Walters,& Meier, 2007). Once the child's able to master the use of their tongue, nasal passage, breathing and lips is when the child will begin the transition from signing to vocal speech. The child will at first use both signing and vocal speaking to convey what kind of message the child is trying to get across. Although if the child is tired it is not out of the ordinary for the child to use their signing rather then their voice because at during this time signing is going to be what the child is more comfortable with (Creaser & Baade,2009).

What Does This Tell Us About Language Development?

  1. A baby can understand and perceive language before the baby can speak it
  2. The reason why verbal language is developed later then sign language is because the baby needs the physical features to develop and then must learn to control them
  3. learning to communicate earlier helps the child develop intellectually, cognitively, and emotionally
  4. Early communication allows the child to have a larger vocabulary

Visuals of Baby sign language

view a baby signing

More BSL

Brother reads to younger brother using BSL

Five Tips While trying to Teach A Baby BSL

Veiw simulations of baby signing!

Bevinetto, G.(2013). All About Baby Sign Language. Baby sign language can help your child communicate without saying a word. Retrieved from: http://www.parents.com/baby/development/sign-language/all-about-baby-sign-language/

Berck, J. 2004. Before Baby Talk, Signs and Signals. New York Times (January 6, 2004). http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/06/health/06BABY.html.

Collingwood, J(2013).Teaching Your Baby Sign Language Can Benefit Both of You. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/teaching-your-baby-sign-language-can-benefit-both-of-you/0002423

Creaser, I. & Baade, L.(2009). Toddler Interpreter. A Parent's Guide to Baby Sign Language for Hering Babies and Toddlers. China: M Creaser Pty Ltd.

Pizer, G., Walters, K.& Meier, R.(2007).Bringing Up Baby with Baby Signs:Language Ideologies and Socialization in Hearing Families. Retrieved from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/sign_language_studies/v007/7.4pizer.html

Hi Ashley, You have a lot of really great stuff here. To finish it, I would suggest: * create some separate headings, such as for some definitional information at the beginning about the beginnings about what “baby sign” is, and what it's goals are; then discuss any evidence about its effects. * are there any more scientific studies about hearing infants' use of signs, or their perception of gesture, etc? * there must be some videos demonstrating infants using sign * is there any evidence about how many hearing infants who use sign actually go on to become proficient at ASL?

Evan Bradley 2013/12/06 19:12