What does your baby and toddler want to say?
You can find out – even before your baby can speak – by using baby sign language! In the words of my six-year-old, “it’s magic.” This was said after we stopped a tantrum in its tracks by getting strawberries, not banana (heaven forbid, banana!) for her toddler brother who was diligently ‘telling’ us what he wanted… but we weren’t paying attention until he started fussing.
Here are six big reasons why to sign with your baby or toddler:
- You’ll figure out what is making your baby fussy – whether it’s because something hurts, she’s hungry, or her diaper needs changing. There is a sign for it all!
- Signing reduces frustration for everyone. Without spoken words, your preverbal baby can only tell you what he wants by pointing, crying, or using unintelligible grunts and noises. Studies have shown that babies can understand the meaning of words as early as six months of age, but it’s not until a verbal language spurt – often more than a year later – that babies can begin to better say what they want, and another year or two until they’ve mastered those cognitive and verbal skills. Signing creates early communication and can later ease the tantrums of the “terrible twos,” which often start in the ”ones,” and continue into the “threes.”
- You can ease mealtime battles because your baby can tell you what she wants to eat and when she’s all done. (Granted, it’s tough when you are all out of the food they want or they want cookies for dinner!)
- Get to know your baby better by having actual conversations about what she wants to talk about – “the airplane goes bye-bye,” “I want the red truck, not the blue car.,” or the “dog was loud! Woof Woof!” — and build a stronger bond with your baby in the process.
- Jumpstart your child’s verbal communication development and create cognitive benefits. Sign language actually increases the amount of spoken words your baby tunes into. Research shows that the more words children hear in the first three years of life, the more advanced their verbal language skills are later.
- Signing builds bridges in special circumstances, like increasing communication pathways in families with children who have special needs. Signing also benefits bilingual families because one sign can stand for the same word in different languages. And, for families with older siblings, signing can be an incredible tool for connection and communication between pre-verbal, peri-verbal, and fluently speaking siblings.
Start signing with your baby now. What your baby has to say will blow you away!