Teach your baby sign language

Bond with your child while learning sign language
Bond with your child while learning sign language 

What is baby signing?
Did you know your baby already communicates with you using basic hand gestures? Baby signing is a natural extension of baby’s natural communication skills.

It was 1982 when our doctors Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn observed that infants and toddlers were instinctively using simple gestures to signify words and concepts they were not yet able to verbalise.
Some would tap their head for ‘hat’, blow out for ‘hot’, raise their arms for ‘up’, or raise and smell their hand for 'flower’.  This inspired Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn to research further into what would occur, if the process was encouraged along.

The two went on to found the “baby sign language” movement and have conducted over two decades of scientific research on the use of sign language with hearing babies.

Their Baby Signs ® program is a communication tool specifically designed for hearing babies aged 0-3 years old, using a combination of "baby friendly" natural symbolic gestures and universal sign language as used in AUSLAN, ASL and BSL in their everyday routines.

The benefits of teaching baby sign language
Research shows that babies who sign are more likely to have advanced speech and IQ levels in their toddler years.

A longitudinal study funded by the National Institutes of Health followed more than 140 families beginning when their babies were 11 months old. Each family was randomly assigned to a signing or a non-signing group.

Results of the study revealed that 24-month-old signing babies were on average talking more like 27- or 28-month-olds, representing more than a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies who signed were also putting together significantly longer sentences.

In addition, 36-month-old signers on average were talking like 47-month-olds, putting them almost a full year ahead of their average age mates. At 8 years, those who had signed as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ than their non-signing peers.

Additional sign language benefits
In addition to helping babies learn to talk and jump-starting their intellectual development, a number of very important social-emotional benefits were also revealed. Drs’ Acredolo and Goodwyn found that signing with hearing babies:

• reduces frustration, biting and other aggressive behaviours.
• helps parents and teachers be more observant and responsive.
• builds trust between babies and their parents and caregivers.
• boosts babies' self-confidence and builds self-esteem.

Getting started
Ready to start signing? Here are four easy signs to get started:

Once you’ve mastered those,  there are baby signing kits available with dictionaries, DVDs, books and other resources to help you. See Baby Signs Australia for more.

Key tips for successful signing
1.    Start with just a few signs
2.    Always use the sign and the word together
3.    Repeat the sign and the word
4.    Point when possible
5.    Guide your baby’s hands
6.    Make signing a part of your daily activities
7.    Watch for opportunities
8.    Be flexible
9.    Be patient
10.    Make learning signs a game, not a chore

Do you have questions on Baby Signing? An expert from Baby Signs Australia will be answering questions in a special Q and A forum.

Ask a question for your chance to win! We have 3 x Baby Signs Complete Signing Kits valued at $69.00 and 5 x  E-learning packages (valued at $19.50) to give away.

Baby Signs Complete Signing Kit give you all the resources you need to begin signing with your baby.  Including 4 board books, 2 DVD's, magnetised reference flipchart and Parents guide.

The best questions will win a prize.

The competition is open until May 14.