You probably have a rudimentary definition of what baby sign language actually is, probably from hearing about it through a friend, saw a snippet on a newscast or in a movie, or was lucky enough to know a baby personally who’s been given the early gift of communication. That being said, you probably still can benefit from a more formal definition so we can all begin on the same page. Baby sign language is a set of gestures and movements combined with handshapes designed to replace spoken words allowing your baby to effectively communicate their needs, wants, and interests with others much earlier than that which is permitted through verbal channels.
Baby sign language can be founded on ASL or American Sign Language, invented signs that you create yourself, what is called “homesigns”, or a combination of both. Baby sign language can also come from any other formal sign language such as British Sign Language (BSL) or Irish Sign Language (ISL). For our intents and purposes, this course will use ASL exclusively. The reasons we endorse ASL over homesigns will be discussed in more detail a little later.
Baby sign language can be used to express not only your thoughts to your baby, but also a way for your baby to express their thoughts to you. If you haven’t yet had the privilege of experiencing first hand the benefits of signing, you’re in for quite the treat! The sheer power that signing wields for babies is impressive to put it mildly. Imagine knowing when your baby is hungry, tired, thirsty, needs a diaper change or has hurt themselves. Baby sign language permits your baby to do all of these things much before they will say their first spoken words. In short, baby sign language is a communication tool that bridges the gap between spoken words and verbal words – between the nonverbal and the verbal world. Why wait until your baby reaches their verbal milestone! You wouldn’t skip crawling, why skip signing!
Above: Books are a great way to encourage signing! In this video we sign BOOK, OWL, ELEPHANT, GIRAFF, TIGER, BIRD, BICYCLE, RINO, CHEETAH, BUFFALO, SLEEP and LION.