Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Can you imagine the frustration of having so much to say and no way to express your needs? Infants are no different from adults in that respect; they are capable of clearly communicating their needs and wants, but the only form of communication available to them is crying. Parents learn to differentiate the cries of their infants, wouldn’t it be wonderful if infants could communicate their needs more clearly?

Teaching your infant basic sign language can provide a communication outlet before verbal communication is possible.

The benefits of your baby knowing sign language goes beyond giving them the ability to tell you they are thirsty; sign can help babies tell their parents when they have a tummy ache, want their blanket, or want to wear the red shirt not the green one. Sign language can help your baby develop vocabulary, increases spatial skills and eye-hand coordination, and reduce frustration (for both of you). It may also increase your baby’s literacy, IQ, cognitive ability, and self-esteem.  For any parent whose heartstrings have been tugged by an inconsolable baby who can’t express what he or she needs, sign language may help.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a recognized language.  Even if you don’t know ASL, you can learn a few simple signs to teach to your baby and then continue learning right along with your child.  Before an infant is six months old, he or she is capable of understanding the concept that certain gestures symbolize certain things.  You can begin to use basic signs with your baby from the moment they are born, signing words like “milk” or “bottle” when they eat, or “potty” when you change a diaper so that the gestures are familiar to them from the start.   If your child is older, it is not too late for the benefits of sign language to have an impact.

Over time, your infant’s signing vocabulary can grow rapidly. You can even incorporate signing with reading time, teaching your infant the signs for the objects in the picture books you read together.  There are many online resources for learning sign so that you can learn what you need to know to share with baby.  Thanks to the benefits of sign language for babies, before your infant is even capable of producing all the phonemes necessary for oral speech, he or she may be communicating with you better than infants twice as old.