3 Myths of Baby Sign Language

May 6, 2021 | Development

This post was written by Sign ‘N Grow

3 Myths of Baby Sign Language

Have you heard of baby sign language? It’s when we teach our babies & toddlers signs from Sign Language to help them communicate with us before they start to speak. 

Baby signing comes with so many benefits – early language development, less frustration for you and your baby, building fine motor skills, and more.

If you already know of baby sign language, then you’ve probably heard one of these 3 myths. Let’s bust the biggest baby sign language myths out there!

 

1. MYTH: Baby sign language delays speech.

FACT: Research has found, time and time again, that baby sign language does not delay speech1,2,3. All you need to do is say the words while signing them. That way, your baby can still see your mouth movements and hear the words attached to the signs. With time, your baby will begin to use a sign, then say the word while signing, and eventually drop the sign and just say the word. In the meantime, your baby has a way to communicate with you early!

 

2. MYTH: Signs don’t count as words.

FACT: Signs are part of your baby’s word count4. Signs are words in Sign Language, so – just like with any other language – they count as words. As long as your baby uses a sign intentionally, independently, and consistently, it’s a word in your baby’s vocabulary.

 

3. MYTH: Sign Language is only for deaf or nonverbal children.

FACT: Sign Language is for everyone! Although deaf and nonverbal children will gain the most from learning Sign Language because it allows them to communicate in a natural and visual way, signs are very beneficial for hearing babies, too! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents of hearing babies use baby sign language to improve early communication5.

At around 8 months, your baby already knows what he or she wants and needs but cannot tell you yet. Baby sign language gives your baby a way to tell you… months before being able to speak to you!

To get started with learning baby signs and how to use them, head over to the @speechsisters and @signngrow Instagram pages. Happy signing!

 

References:
1 Thompson, Rachel H, Nicole M Cotnoir-Bichelman, Paige M McKerchar, Trista L Tate, and Kelly A Dancho. “Enhancing Early Communication through Infant Sign Training,” 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868823/.
2 Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth M., Jonelle Thibert, Viviane Grandpierre, and J. Cyne Johnston. “How HANDy Are Baby Signs? A Systematic Review of the Impact of Gestural Communication on Typically Developing, Hearing Infants under the age of 36 Months.” First Language 34, no. 6 (2014): 486–509. https://doi.org/10.1177/0142723714562864.
3 Casefsky, Mellisa J. “Baby Sign Language: Hindering or Enhancing Communication in Infants and Toddlers?” University of Wisconsin-Stout, May 2009. http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2009/2009cesafskym.pdf.
4 “If a Child Uses Some Sign Language to Communicate, Should the Signed Words Be Included in His Vocabulary Words, Even If He Does Not Speak Them?” Ages & Stages Questionnaires. Accessed February 21, 2021. http://support.agesandstages.com/kb/article/369-if-a-child-uses-some-sign-language-to-communicate-should-the-signed-words-be-included-in-his-vocabulary-words-even-if-he-does-not-speak-them/.
5 Jana, Laura A., and Jennifer Shu. Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020. 

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Sign ‘n Grow

Mary Smith is a Licensed Educational American Sign Language Interpreter and has a degree in Deaf Studies. Mary helps parents communicate with their babies early by teaching them signs for their little one’s everyday needs, which can reduce temper tantrums, ease frustration, and promote early parent-child bonding.

You can find Mary on Instagram @signngrow and at signngrow.com. Mary offers online courses where she teaches parents how to utilize baby sign language with unique strategies and interactive methods that are engaging for both parents and their babies.

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