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Baby sign language: A good idea?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-sign-language/AN02127
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Baby sign language: A good idea?
Is baby sign language worthwhile?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
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|Baby sign language: 'More'|
|Baby sign language: 'Drink'|
|Baby sign language: 'Eat'|
|Baby sign language: 'Mother'|
|Baby sign language: 'Father'|
Baby sign language — when babies use modified gestures from American Sign Language — can be an effective communication tool. Teaching and practicing baby sign language also can be fun and give you and your child an opportunity to bond.
Limited research suggests that baby sign language might give a typically developing child a way to communicate several months earlier than those who only use vocal communication. This might help ease frustration between ages 8 months and 2 years — when children begin to know what they want, need and feel but don't necessarily have the verbal skills to express themselves. Children who have developmental delays might benefit, too. Further research is needed, however, to determine if baby sign language promotes advanced language, literacy or cognition.
To begin teaching your child baby sign language, familiarize yourself with signs through books, websites or other sources. To get the most out of your baby sign language experience, keep these tips in mind:
- Set realistic expectations. Feel free to start signing with your child at any age — but remember that most children aren't able to communicate with baby sign language until about age 8 months.
- Keep signs simple. Start with signs to describe routine requests, activities and objects in your child's life — such as more, drink, eat, mother and father. Choose signs that are of most interest to your child.
- Make it interactive. Try holding your baby on your lap, with his or her back to your stomach. Embrace your baby's arms and hands to make signs. Or carry your baby and make the sign on his or her body. Alternate talking and not talking while signing. To give signs context, try signing while bathing, diapering, feeding or reading to your baby. Acknowledge and encourage your child when he or she uses gestures or signs to communicate.
- Stay patient. Don't get discouraged if your child uses signs incorrectly or doesn't start using them right away. The goal is improved communication and reduced frustration — not perfection. However, avoid accepting indiscriminate movements as signs.
Keep in mind that, as you teach baby sign language, it's important to continue talking to your child. Spoken communication is an important part of your child's speech development.Next question
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- About baby signing. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2010/101102/About-Baby-Signing.htm. Accessed Jan. 17, 2013.
- Gongora X, et al. Infant sign language program effects on synchronic mother-infant interactions. Infant Behavior and Development. 2009;32:216.
- Thompson RH, et al. Enhancing early communication through infant sign training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 2007;40:15.
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- Table 1. Recommended first signs. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ASHA/Publications/leader/2010/101102/Recommended-Choices-for-a-First-Sign-Lexicon.pdf. Accessed Jan. 17, 2013.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam; 2009:315.
- Birth to one year: What should my child be able to do? American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.