Back to articles Sign Language for Babies, A Gift for Families

Categories: Parenting

Before I had my daughter, I thought that sign language for babies that could hear was nothing but a silly fad until I saw a video posted on YouTube. Needless to say I was blown away by what I saw, just like the more than 2 million others who have viewed this one video alone. It was then I decided to make signing a part of our family's lives.

I have worked with children for over 15 years and as a Registered Early Childhood Educator and have witnessed first hand –the screaming and yelling and full blown tantrums that children have when the people around them cannot understand what they need.  I never thought there could be a way to minimize this stage in a child’s life, but I was wrong.  Sign language can change all of that.

No more battles over the “wrong” food choice-she tells us what she wants and lets us know what she doesn’t like by using sign language instead of screaming.  She even tells us if she wants the lights on or the fan off, and when she’s ready for her bath and bed.

I often wonder where we would be if we didn’t teach her sign language? I believe that we would be like other frazzled parents who are dealing with daily tantrums that could have easily been avoided, not to mention the missed communication opportunities they could have shared.

Some people wonder if it’s worth it in the long term to sign with their babies and toddlers.  While she may not become fluent in ASL (and decide to learn a different second language) or later on decide that speaking is easier than signing (which she will), that is beside the point. What’s important is that she can communicate with us now in a meaningful way until she is able to verbalize her thoughts.

It’s also about spending quality time together.  We are still amazed that we can have a conversation with our now 1 year old (she started to sign back at 8 months). She can inform us of things that are important to her.  She can tell us what she wants and needs.  She can share things she sees in books or when we’re out for a walk.  There’s excitement on her face when she realizes that we know what she wants and it has built up her confidence and self-esteem – she is eager to explore the world and share what she discovers with us. There’s no better reason than this to start signing with your own baby.

About the Author: Sonja Kos is a certified My Smart Hands instructor. My Smart Hands of Durham Region Sign Language Classes for Babies & More!