Because babies gesture before they can talk, they can learn to sign before they can speak verbally. You can start signing to your baby from day one, although it’s also never too late to start. Most babies are able to sign back by the time they are eight to 12 months old.
Babies exposed to sign language can sign five to six months before they can speak words (the motor skills babies need for signing develop between six and 12 months, while the motor skills needed for speech don’t develop until around 12 to 18 months)
You can start by incorporating signs into your daily routine while playing, singing and reading. Start slowly with basic signs (such as “eat” and “more”), make it fun and add to your repertoire as your child’s interests grow and develop.
Click here for more information on how to communicate with your baby, and to find out how her speech develops from month to month.
Sara Bingham is the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book. She has been studying American Sign Language (ASL) since 1991 with the Canadian Hearing Society, the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf in Toronto and at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. Sara has worked with the Toronto Preschool Speech and Language Services and is an instructor within Durham College's Communicative Disorders Assistant program. Weehands.com