I think that this is the single most important benefit to signing. For one, it’s a fool proof way to enjoy signing. Some day research might show that babies that sign don’t have higher IQ’s, bigger vocabularies, read and write sooner, have fewer tantrums and greater self confidence, but no research will ever prove that signing with your baby does not help build a connection (and that’s the second). Signing to strengthen bonds is something that can’t be taken away. Signing for the fun of it is something that is guaranteed to come to fruition and depends only on you and your baby. Signing for fun and connection puts you in control of the outcome.
Signing with your baby is a great way to share the world with your little guy in a very specific way. Yes, non-signing babies and parents share the world with each other too, but they don’t do it by focusing specifically on one thing with precision each time they interact. From any distance, I can sign to my baby, and he’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I can sign HORSE, and he knows exactly what to look for. He can sign BUG and I know on exactly what level to focus on. When my son signs SQUIRREL, I don’t just look out the window, I look into the tree to find the furry animal that lives there. My baby and I connected through sign, from a very early age, in a way that can’t be duplicated by any other means.
If you sign, sign for the all the right reasons – sign to build a relationship with your baby.