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When I held my baby for the first time, I remember thinking about all the things I was going to teach him, show him, and give him. I envisioned all the opportunities and experiences I was going to make available to him when he was older. I looked forward to teaching him how to read and write, to love language, books and art. I imagined him growing up to be good, kind and compassionate, with a strong desire to learn and experience the world around him. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t have to wait until he was older – that there were things that I could start teaching him now while I cradled him in my arms.
It wasn’t until he was 9 months old that I discovered baby sign language and let me tell you, I wish I had known about it earlier! I never would have imagined that this little baby of mine was even capable of expressing what he wanted, let alone that I would be able to understand him. It was incredible. There are no words that can describe just how amazing that moment is when your baby can show you with baby sign language that he is hungry or cold or wants to be picked up or to see him sign I love you.
There are plenty of scientific facts and studies that promote the use of sign language with babies. They show that baby sign language fosters early communication before speech, decreases tantrums, increases vocabulary, language and IQ.
Would you ever consider not teaching your child how to speak?
As a parent, teaching children to speak isn’t even considered because it is something we automatically do. Ultimately we want to give our children the tools they need to communicate, but we get stuck on the idea that communication requires speech. It doesn’t! Babies naturally are trying to express what they want or feel with their hands and/or body language. We just don’t understand them. With baby sign language, we are given a tool or guide to understand them better. It is amazing how much a little baby can learn and how much they are able to express through sign language. Why would any parent want to deprive their baby of the first language they should all learn – Baby Sign Language!
When they can express themselves, it makes them happier!
A happy baby makes for a happy mommy and daddy! The first couple of years can be anything but easy, so why not try baby sign language which can make it just a little bit easier. As adults we know how frustrating it is when others don’t understand our needs or wants – and we can talk! Just imagine how frustrated your baby can be when they don’t have the ability to tell you what they want or need, when they are completely dependent on you for everything. As an adult, if others don’t meet or needs or wants, we have options, we can do things ourselves or find others who understand us. Babies can’t do this. That’s why it makes it even more important that we give them the gift of early language through signs. When you’re baby can tell you he wants a cracker and not more milk and you give it to him right away without all the guessing and second guessing – you can imagine the difference in his behavior. Baby sign language helps them to express themselves clearly.
They want to learn!
Everything is new to a baby and they want to know and experience as much as they can. Teaching them baby sign language helps to fill their need to learn. And they learn fast! You would be surprised just how fast their sign language skills are used to build their vocabulary and speech. The more you show them, the more they are excited to learn more. You will be pleasantly surprised the day your baby speaks for the first time and its not just one word but a string of words. Baby sign language helps to build a dictionary of words in your child’s brain so big that when their motor skills are developed enough, the words come pouring out of them!
It facilitates bilingualism.
My children are part of a bilingual family and sign language has helped them to connect two different spoken languages to one image and sign. This was absolutely an unexpected result from teaching my children sign language. Not only did baby sign language help them to connect the hand sign with the two spoken languages – it helped my husband to learn a second language too! The more senses that are engaged the easier it is to learn things. In this case, using your hands to sign, your eyes to see an image and your ears to hear the words, helped to quickly connect them together. As babies, it made it so easy for them to hear a word in English or Chinese and automatically imagine the same image in their head for both sounds, and produce the same sign for them instantly.
Its just so darn cute!
The experience of watching a little tiny baby think about something and sign it to you, is the most amazing thing to watch. To know that their little brains are even capable of holding and processing so much information is incredible. Babies and toddlers are normally thought of and treated like babies and toddlers. When you see your baby sign for the first time, you definitely see them as super babies! And believe me, when other parents see just how well your baby can express himself, they will be begging you to show them how they can teach their baby sign language too!
Well that’s only my top 5 reasons why I feel I was lucky to teach my children sign language, with a simple Google search, you’ll be able to find a lot more reasons why baby sign language is definitely not something you want to opt out of. Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much of a difference it makes to your baby, yourself and your family!
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