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Why do we teach Sign Language in our Baby Sensory classes?

Baby Sign Language and The Language Path; What is it and Why it’s Helpful

Babies can understand words and even whole sentences long before they are able to speak. Although they cannot use words, babies are capable of communicating when they are wet, thirsty, hungry, tired or in pain through signing. World-renowned baby development expert and Baby Sensory creator, Dr. Lin Day, says, “by the age of 3 months babies can read lips and discriminate between different sounds of speech.” Because of this, Dr. Day says, “it’s important to provide an environment rich in language from the very beginning.”

Crying is one of the first ways a baby will communicate with its parent. Babies quickly learn that crying will bring “food, comfort, or companionship” but if you pay close attention to cries of hunger or pain are much more stressful sounding then those of boredom or frustration.

Learning how to communicate with your baby through baby sign language is a strategy for early and improved language development. One thing is for certain and that’s “anything that increases parents’ interaction and engagement with their infants is a good thing and teaching your baby signs can certainly do that” (Lee Savio Beers, M.D.).

A baby’s first word takes a lot of practice and learning, and although this may occur after the first 10 months, “timing varies considerably between individual babies” (Day). “Brain maturity, control of vocal apparatus and complex social interactions between baby and the adult around them” all affect when a baby will utter his or her first words (Day). The more words and variety of words you can speak around your infant will increase his or her language development.

  • The list below are a few simple ways from Dr. Lin Day to help develop speech and language every day without adding extra time to your day.
  • Talk to baby during daily routine activities such as feeding, bath time and diaper changing
  • Listen to sounds that babies make and respond with words of encouragement so that they know you are listening
  • Use simple speech that is easy for babies to imitate and allow them to respond
  • Draw attention to objects and say their names
  • Make animal sounds
  • Sing lullabies, songs, and nursery rhymes to introduce new words and encourage listening skills. Repeat them regularly
  • Play turn-taking games involving signs or actions such as “Pat-a-cake” and “Peek-a-boo”
  • Read and reread picture and story books that focus on sounds and rhymes
  • Praise baby for words used correctly

Beers, Lee S. “Baby Sign Language.” Pediatric News 45.12 (2011): n. pag. Academic One File. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.usc.edu/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA276351531&v=2.1&u=usocal_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1!
Day, Dr. Lin “The Language Path.” Copyright Baby Sensory (2008)

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