Your baby has been crying on and off for the better part of an hour. You’ve already fed him, burped him, and changed his diapers, but he still keeps crying. You wished that he could tell you what it is that he wanted. Unfortunately, babies can’t talk just yet. Sigh!
But while babies can only gurgle sounds, they can be taught how to communicate with their parents and their caregivers through Baby Sign Language.
At Mommy Mundo’s Mom School session, Jaymie Pizarro, a US-certified Baby Sign Language instructor, says babies less than two years old may be taught how to communicate with his family through signing. By knowing how to sign, baby will not only be able to tell his parents what he wants and needs, but also how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking.
Baby sign language traces its beginnings in the late 1970s. Joseph Garcia, an interpreter, had observed hearing babies signing with their deaf parents. His curiosity prompted him to do further studies, and in 1994, he published his first book on baby sign language.
For baby, Jaymie says signing empowers him as he is able to communicate with the people around him. This not only boosts his self-esteem, it also enhances his bonding experience with his family.
For mom and dad, signing makes the everyday challenges of caring for baby less frustrating. It also reduces stress, resulting in a happier home environment for everyone.
Signing also boosts everyone’s cognitive skills. Because signing is another language, it helps improve memory and build vocabulary both for baby and his parents.
Signing not only helps baby learn to talk, it also jumpstarts his intellectual development. Studies have shown that signing babies grow up to be articulate children. By age 2, signing children knew more words than non-signers. By age 3, they spoke like four-year-olds.
Jaymie reassures parents that the signs are easy to learn and remember as they are iconic signs. Babies can actually learn up to 200 signs. Indeed, her own daughter Nia learned some 50 signs. She adds that it is best to teach the signs to yaya and lola, too.
Here are some tips to increase your chances of success in teaching baby how to sign. First, it’s always a good idea to say the word while signing. This is so that baby will associate what he sees with what he hears. Watch for opportunities to sign, so that you can sign in context.
Encourage your baby to participate, but exercise patience always. Last but not least, have fun! Signing is not a competition of whose baby knows the most number of signs. It’s a way of empowering your baby, making him a healthier and happier child.