We were surprised to read this week that a study has found that there is no link between using baby sign language and speech development.
We’ve heard really positive stories from parents of children who taught their babies to use signs before they could speak, especially about how advanced their language and social skills are.
Joe, our Deaf Team Manager said: “My babies started to communicate through gesture and signs from five months old. My first daughter's first sign was 'bath' and my other daughter’s was 'Mummy'!
“They are bilingual - both have very clear speech and huge vocabulary compared to their friends and also use BSL fluently. My oldest daughter is one of the top readers in her year.”
And our Facilities Co-ordinator Emma who is mum to two-year-old Elin (and a baby on the way!!!) said: “I’ve done baby sign with my little one from when she was five months old, she’s almost two now and everyone comments on how good her speech is!”.
The University of Hertfordshire study looked at 40 mums and babies and said that although the babies learned the gestures, they didn’t learn the words any quicker than non-signing babies.
But the study did find that mothers who gestured with their babies were more responsive to their non-verbal clues and that it encouraged mums to view their babies as individuals with a mind of their own.
Where does baby sign come from?
Although deaf people have always used simplified signs with their children, it wasn’t until the 1980s that child development expert Dr Joseph Garcia noticed that the hearing babies of his deaf friends were communicating and expressing themselves more easily and far earlier than babies of hearing friends and decided to study it further.
Subsequent studies have found that babies who sign have larger vocabularies, higher IQs and better social skills than those who do not. Signing with babies is also said to have other benefits such as boosting baby’s confidence and providing a great bonding opportunity for parents and their little ones.
Have you tried baby sign? What do you think?