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Baby Signing: a way to reduce frustration

President, Pregnancy and Pediatrics
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Baby Signing: a way to reduce frustration

I’m no baby signing expert, but one of the most helpful things we did was teach our daughter baby sign language. We only taught her 5 or 6 signs, but they really reduced her frustration level (which reduced ours). We started around 6 months and it took a few weeks for her to pick it up, but when she did it really helped. Her fussiness was replaced by demanding what she wanted by signing, which made it easier for us to understand her needs and desires. Bundoo Speech Therapist Cara Barthelette has a video that exhibits basic signs to start with: http://www.bundoo.com/videos/tips-for-teaching-signs-to-your-baby/

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  1. I have a friend who signed with her child when she was a baby. However, her child got so used to signing when she wanted something that she preferred that over trying to talk. Is there any truth to the theory that signing may cause your baby to have speech delays?

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    1. This is exactly why I never taught my girls how to sign. I didn’t want to risk them having any sort of speech delay so I was willing to play the guessing game until they could tell me what they wanted.

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  2. Yes! Couldn’t agree more Stephanie! We did the same – only maybe 6 or so signs for common things like “milk”, “eat”, “all done” etc and it made communicating with a pre-verbal baby a dream. I can imagine for high-needs babies this is even more of a benefit.

    And to address the speech delay concerns: has never been a problem for us (or most parents I have talked to). Even if it meant my son were to talk a month or so later (which he’s always been on track and is a total chatterbox now!), I would have taken it for the many months of wonderful communication we had before he was able to talk!

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  3. Although it’s a common misconception, research regarding the effects of using baby sign on speech and language development indicates that there’s no correlation between signing and speech / language delay. Some research actually suggests that the opposite may be true– that it may actually help speech and language development. Here’s a link to a good study on the topic: http://faculty.washington.edu/sommej/Goodwynetal2000.pdf. Of course it’s true that some children who are taught to sign will have delayed speech and language, but the research doesn’t indicate that the signing caused the delay. Chances are those children with delays would have had them whether they signed or not. From my experiences working with speech delayed toddlers, I’ve seen how much signing can help frustrated children by giving them a temporary means to communicate and make their wishes known. I imagine it could also really benefit some high needs kids too like Stephanie recommended.

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    1. Thank you for clearing that up for me. 🙂

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