Watching a baby cry for hours on end can be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. Their diapers have been changed, their bellies are full, they've even been cuddled for what seems like an eternity, but we just can't figure out what's wrong with them. Until they learn to communicate with words, it can be difficult to placate a tantrum. Every child learns to speak at different rates, but there is one way that a parent can teach them to communicate before they reach this pivotal stage. Sign language.
PREVIOUSLY: SIGNS THAT INDICATE THE BABY MIGHT BE DEAF
According to Paula Lemane, a pediatric audiologist with the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the brain knows how to communicate before we're able to articulate speech, meaning that babies can learn basic sign language from a very early age. Understandably, some believe that making sign language the first form of communication could hinder progress when it comes to talking later down the line, but research has shown that this isn't the case. Babies who learn sign language have displayed no negative impact on their speech development. In fact, some experts go a step further and suggest that it may actually have a positive effect, helping infants to progress faster.
Elizabeth Crais, Ph.D., speech-language pathologist, and professor of Ph.D. Studies in the division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, says that once a baby learns the word for something they will most likely stop using the sign for it, as they get the end result much faster by verbally asking for it.
It's thought that signing can be taught to babies from 6 months onward - a huge leap from when most children begin to speak basic words at around 12-months-old. By teaching a child sign language for simple words such as "More" and "Yes", you could be kickstarting their verbal development - as well as easing off some of those terrible tantrums that we're fated to deal with on a daily basis. When a baby can communicate what is upsetting them, parents can (hopefully quickly) find a solution that is catered to that specific need.
With plenty of information available on the different gestures, there's never been a better time to pick up this new skill.
Will you be working on some sign language education with your baby? Let us know how you get on!