How to Use Sign Language to Communicate with Babies!

Playing How Sign Language Can Help Parents and Babies Communicate

It’s sometimes difficult for parents to know what their baby wants, but with sign language, they may be able to remove some of the guesswork. One mother, Diana, shares that she uses this with her daughter and finds it very helpful! Words that she uses every day like “diaper” and “milk” have signs that her baby now recognizes. One of the founders of “Baby Signs," Dr. Linda Acredolo, joins on video conference to explain how she came up with this concept.

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Dr. Acredolo says she came up with it in the early 80s when her children started to come up with their own spontaneous signs. She was a developmental psychologist so she dove further into this with her colleague Dr. Susan Goodwyn. They documented that a lot of babies do this and it has wonderful implications for the parent-child relationship.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra points out that at first, people thought this would delay a baby’s verbal development, but Dr. Acredolo found the exact opposite! “We followed babies from the time they were 11 months to 3 years and we found the babies who were actually signing were learning to talk sooner than the babies who hadn’t been signing.”

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How can parents get started? Dr. Acredolo says it’s very easy! She explains you always try and combine a word with a gesture that the baby would want to use to tell you something, for example, “milk.” Parents should be patient and continue to repeat this behavior over and over and eventually, babies will start to do that gesture themselves! For more information on baby sign language, click here!