Baby sign language! Does that really work?

In America it has been popular for some time: teach your baby sign language so that your child can indicate more quickly what he or she wants. The baby could express gestures sooner than a baby says the words. This saves your baby (and you) a lot of frustration because you can understand each other better and earlier. Sounds pretty good right? Read more about this here baby sign language, how you can start and whether it really makes a lot of sense.

What is sign language?

Sign language is, as they say nicely, a visual language. It is a language that you do not hear, but you can see. Words or actions are depicted through the use of hands, posture and mimicry. The real Dutch sign language is a fully-fledged language. This means that it has its own grammar and differs from the sign language of other countries. The gestures we sometimes use in daily life are not always the same as the gestures used in Dutch sign language.

The baby sign language also has many words that are derived from the Dutch sign language. But sometimes you can also choose to use your own gestures for certain words.

Learn to understand your baby with this book!

Hand gestures baby

Making a lot of hand gestures to your baby while you are talking helps to give your words extra strength and thus better clarify something. You can also teach your baby sign language so that you can communicate with each other more quickly.

Baby sign language means in short that you add gestures to your words. The gestures you add are usually the same as those of Dutch sign language. Your baby learns the language by not only forming words in sounds, but also in gestures. Or actually your baby first teaches you something clear in gestures and then in words. Children start talking when they are between 12 to 18 months old. Gestures can form children from the age of 6 to 9 months.

Start learning sign language

If you are interested in learning your sign language, you can start it if your baby is 6 to 9 months old. From then on, the brain functions have been developed in that your baby is becoming more and more aware of the environment and can direct his or her attention.

The baby can also connect words to objects and actions. This way your baby can recognize objects, such as a particular hug. Your baby also understands what you mean when you say that you are going to eat or go to sleep. The only difference is that your baby can not make clear what he or she wants exactly. You could learn that by learning your baby sign language.

Benefits of sign language of babies

There are several studies that have discovered various benefits of baby sign language. So it seems to promote the language and speech development of your little one. In addition, you can understand each other before. This can be very frustrating for you and the baby. It even seems that babies who can do sign language, cry less.

First steps of learning baby sign language

Teaching your baby sign language requires some perseverance. You have to keep doing it consistently, otherwise your baby will not learn it. In addition, you must not forget to continue to speak the words or actions, because it is all about saying and expressing the combination of words. Otherwise your baby will not learn the speech, but only the gestures. To start learning your baby sign language you can go through the following points:

  • Always start very simple and easy and start with 2 gestures for actions or words that you use a lot. A good thing to start with is 'to eat' since your baby has started the exercise snacks from that moment on. 'Eating' is shown by putting your thumb and index finger together and moving twice towards your mouth. Another word that you can express is sleeping. Here you can see how you can do this.
  • Use the gestures and the words at the same time. So not just the gesture.
  • Use the words in combination with the gestures as much as possible every day. The more you repeat them, the faster your baby learns. Therefore choose mainly for words that you use a lot, such as sleeping and eating, and always use them when it applies.
  • Besides the gestures it is also good to point to objects when you name them. So point to the book and say 'book'.
  • It is not only important to make the gestures yourself, your baby also has to make them. Help your baby by making the gesture for your child.
  • Have a lot of patience, because it can take some time for your child to master it. Besides patience, it is really necessary to encourage your baby. If your baby has done well, raise your thumb. That is the 'good' sign.
  • If your child has mastered the two gestures, you add new gestures.

Baby sign language examples

So starting to learn baby sign language can be pretty easy. It is especially the trick to be consistent and to keep repeating. If you want to do well, use the gestures of Dutch sign language for the words. On the website of babygebaren.nl you can find an overview with different words including the gestures. The words are in alphabetical order so that you can quickly find the right word you want to teach to your baby.

Baby sign language course

If you really want to tackle it seriously then you can of course follow a baby sign language course. The courses are given throughout the country. Do you want to know if a course is being held in your area? View the overview here!

Baby gestures app

There are apps available that have the purpose to teach your child gestures with words.What's extra nice about these apps is that the word is not only supported by a gesture, but also by a sound. If you search for 'baby sign language' in the app store, you will find a few.

Baby gestures book

If you want to start with the sign language yourself, you can also buy a book for less than 20 euros. There are several books about baby sign language such as:

  • 'Baby gestures' by Lissa Zeviar
  • 'You see what I say' by Nadine Meijer-Molier
  • 'Baby talk' by Eiskje Clason

Sign language baby YouTube

Of course there are YouTube videos about how to teach your baby sign language. For example this video:

Sign language in babies, does it really help?

Many are lyrical about the results achieved with baby sign language. It also seems that various studies have actually shown that it helps with the language and speech development of your baby.

Yet there are also authorities that are skeptical about it. For example, the studies that have been carried out seem to be not really scientific studies. They consisted mainly of opinions without data or literature sources that could substantiate their claims. The real scientific studies are a bit behind. The scientific studies that have been carried out show little lasting effects of baby sign language.

There is actually more research needed to really determine with certainty whether it makes sense to teach your baby sign language. But that does not mean that you can not try. There are plenty of people and agencies who claim that it helps. So who knows. In any case, it is never bad to try, and it is also fun to be so involved with your child.

Do you have experience with this? Let us know!

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