In Her Book Superbaby, Dr. Jenn Berman Notes That It's Wise To Continue Signing With Your Baby Even After She Begins Developing Language Skills. Find Out Why.

In her book Superbaby, Dr. Jenn Berman notes that it's wise to continue signing with your baby even after she begins developing language skills. Find out why.
I've been reading a lot about baby sign language. I know several parents who have used it as a very successful communication tool with their babies. And I know others -- ahem, me -- who didn't. My son was ten months old when we adopted him. Baby sign would have been wonderful because he was speech delayed. By two, he only had a few words. There was a time when we wondered if he would talk much at all. Well, three years later, I kind of wish he'd talk just a tiny bit less! But when he wasn't speaking, he was also very frustrated and baby sign language would have been incredibly helpful. I did try. Shortly after he came home, I purchased a few books and gave it my all. And he wanted nothing to do with. We had several issues to work through as a result of him spending the first ten months of his life in "less than optimal care," so I decided that the last thing we needed was one more frustration. I let it go. Our daughter came to us at seven and a half months old from Ethiopia. For all seven and a half months of her life, she had heard Amharic, one of the language spoken in Ethiopia. Because she was sick when she came home (and so was I!), we didn't start baby sign right away. We did our best to function. I planned to work with her...except six weeks later, she began talking. And talking. And talking. Within a few months, she was stringing words together. By 15 months, she had the verbal capacity of a child twice her age. I never kept track of her words because she added them by the hundred. And that is the point of this post! I was reading Superbaby by Dr. Jenn Berman and came across the baby sign section. Dr. Jenn addresses the fact that some parents parents cut back on signing when their babies become verbal. She has a section in her book where signing with babies and children expert Etel Leit, M.S. offers reasons not do that. I have taken the following points directly from Superbaby because they are very interesting and worth considering. I wish I had read this before I decided that sign was not necessary because my 12 month old could effectively communicate with me verbally. The following is from Superbaby:
Some signing families cut back on signing as their children become more verbal and have a wider range of expressive words. "Baby Sign Language" is misinterpreted as just that, signing for babies, but the benefits of signing with children don't end when speech begins.
Etel Leit, M.S., offers the following longer-term benefits of continuing (or I would think in cases of older infant adoption, beginning) sign language, even though speech is developing:
  • Cognitive Stimulation: larger vocabulary, better spelling, better information retention, improved reading skills, enhanced fine motor coordination for writing
  • Emotional Stimulation: able to more productively express emotions, better peer interaction, cultural sensitivity, gained confidence and self esteem, able to use manners well
Very interesting, and it all makes sense to me. Had I read this earlier, may have decided to teach my daughter sign even though her verbal skills were off the charts. Now that she's two, I can see her enjoying it. I guess it's never too late... I'll have several more posts next week about baby sign language. There is a lot to cover. >>What are your thoughts on baby sign? Have you used it? If so, how do you feel about it? If you tried but discontinued, why?

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