First of all, you probably have a rough idea of what your baby wants and needs, but you don’t know exactly what he wants or needs, and you certainly can’t know it as fast or as certainly as would a signing parent. Does your baby ask for MILK, WATER, JUICE or do they just look thirsty while grunting and pointing toward the fridge? Get my point?
Signing is so much more specific, it leaves very little to the imagination. It empowers a baby and brings them up to adult level. They can contribute to the conversation, start new conversations, identify thoughts and memories they have recalled and on and on. If a signing baby is left with a caregiver or family member and that person is taught the signs, they will be able to communicate with your baby. They won’t need the same level of connection because ASL is a language used by more than just your baby and you. No matter how close your connection is with your baby, there’s probably still quite a bit of guesswork involved in deciphering their intended meaning. While signs aren’t always perfect either, and sometimes context helps figuring out signs that look similar, it requires far less work in uncovering baby’s needs and wants. Signing has many other side benefits too such as increasing vocabulary, better emotional control, a stronger parent-child bond, more frequent shared attention throughout the day, the ability to produce a two way conversation and invent increased IQ. So while some parents can read the silent body language of a baby and know roughly what they want and need, only a signing parent and baby can tell each other specifically, right down to the word.