Babies and sign language at an early age can be very beneficial to a child. Sign language can be taught to babies in the pre-verbal stage along with their parents, caregivers and even grandparents. The best age groups are between 6 months and 3 years old who are not yet able to speak clearly.
Learning baby sign language will help an 8-month old baby express their need for milk or that she is hungry. By the age of 10-months, she could tell you what she saw, such as an airplane. By 18-months, if she has an earache she would be able to convey that to her caregiver. When you are out in public, learning baby sign language would enable you to manage the behavior of your child without having to say a word. Think of the frustration that will be curtailed by having a communication mode with your pre-verbal child. By introducing baby sign language, you as a parent will jumpstart their language development as well as enhance self-esteem in your child.
Some of the proven benefits that will be gained by teaching baby sign language to your child is an increase in IQ and interest in books. When reading books to your child you will be able to point to the pictures and give them the sign to match as you say the word.
Having this communication in place early will change the way you and your child interact with each other strengthening the bond between you even more.
In the book Baby Signs written by Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn they suggest you start to model signs from birth. It is not until about 6-months old that baby develops the ability to remember signs and is able to begin using the motor skills needed to make signs. Signs at first will not be exact, but the more you practice with your baby and they develop better motor skills they will become more distinct to you.
How do you know when baby is ready to communicate? Baby will start to bring objects to you hoping for an identification of the object. Has your baby started to clap or wave bye-bye? If she has she is showing signs of readiness. Do your baby experience a measure of frustration when you are unable to understand them resulting in temper tantrums? These are a few but not all of the indicators that might be present in the child that is ready to communicate but has not yet developed language skills. Even though you may start signing with your child from about 6 - 7 months she may not start signing back to you until closer to 12 months. On the other hand, some children by the age of 8 - 9 months are signing to you on a regular basis. Once the meaning of the signs are internalized and the necessary motor skills are developed your child will sign to you, but it is solely dependant upon the individual child and their personal development. The main thing to remember is do not give up, hang in there and it will pay off.