I get told this often. I also hear, "so, you teach deaf babies?"
- NO, Not ONLY deaf babies, we teach ALL babies and their adults.
"But, there's nothing WRONG with my baby - I don't need to sign with them....."
ALL babies, and their families, benefit from signing. But How? I hear you ask.
Babies learn to speak from about 18 months - 2 years old (in general, on average, every child is different). This is not because their brains haven't developed until this point, it is because the muscles they need for speech haven't developed and strengthened until then. Yes, they can make sounds and babble. they may even have some words, but proper speech takes time because of these muscles.
The brain however, has the power of understanding AND the ability to communicate. By giving the brain the communication aide of signing, AMAZING things happen!
The guesswork of parenting or caring for a toddler is quickly diminished as, by getting down to their level, physically, and signing to them, the little one will soon learn the signs they need to fulfill their requirements of daily living.
By signing with your little one you are making eye contact more often. You are showing them that they matter. You are increasing their confidence because they know they are understood and listened to. You decrease their frustration, and yours. You are able to answer their questions:
When my youngest son was 12 months old, I took him to a park. In the park was a white Chihuahua. He stopped and took a long, hard, look at this creature and turned to me signing "what?". Not wanting to make life too easy for him, I replied "what do you think it is?" (signing What? right back at him). he went back to staring and eventually turned back to me and signed "Mouse". To be honest I'm not completely certain he has ever forgiven me or will ever totally trust me again after I had to gently explain that it was actually a dog!
I would however never have even known he had a question let alone been able to expand his world of weird and wonderful animals, had we not been able to sign.
Signing with your little one expands their world, and yours! It works wonders for children of all abilities, the only difference being that, the little ones with challenges of any kind tend to hold onto their signs for longer (sometimes for ever and can expand their signing vocabulary to suit their needs with the Makaton system). Little ones with no developmental challenges drop their signs as they learn to speak as speech is quicker and easier than signing. All they will be left with is a larger vocabulary, a better understanding of their world and a wonderfully close, communication rich relationship with their loved ones.
Go to www.babybabble.guru for more information on signing with your baby or read this blog on how to get started!