Until they are about 8-12 months of age, babies only have one sure way of communicating: crying. Other subtle signs babies communicate like yawns, wetting their lips, or wiping their eyes can also cue a parent in to issues of hunger or sleepiness. However, babies begin to understand the cadence of language and meanings of words well before their first birthday, (Babies, 2006 ). Therefore, a baby might have more complex desires beyond that of the standard clean diaper, full tummy, and well-rested body. For instance, a baby might want to cuddle with their favorite stuffed animal or blanket, be read a story, or inform the parent that they are feeling too hot. In order to harness the full communication potential in an infant, a parent can utilize the power of sign language.
“Signing with babies, whether hearing or deaf, has proven to be beneficial,” (Berke, 2009). Not only will a baby or young toddler be able to let a parent know that they want their blue socks instead of their red socks, but American Sign Language is the 3rd most common language in the United States. That means, “Should your baby continue to learn American Sign Language past his or her 3rd year, she will have acquired a 2nd or even 3rd language,” (Babies, 2006). When a child cannot verbalize exactly what they want, a tantrum can occur. To avoid frustration, a parent can show their child the hand signs for common words used on a daily basis, like “milk”, “water”, “teddy bear”, “blanket”, “sleep”, “more”, “hug”, and others. Another benefit of teaching an infant sign language is the improved relationship between parent and child.
Babies. (2006, n.d.). Baby sign language with your infant or toddler. Retrieved on August 2, 2010, from http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/
Berke, J. (2009, July 14). Using baby sign language with your baby. Retrieved on August 2, 2010, fromhttp://deafness.about.com/cs/signfeats1/a/babysigning.htm