Mothers of Infants and Toddlers: Check Out Baby Sign Language

Monday April 12, 2010

In my travels across the blogosphere, I came upon a really neat blog. I immediately thought of those of you who are mothering infants and toddlers right now.

Several years ago I watched a friend of mine use baby sign language with her infant, and I thought it was the neatest thing! As an English teacher, anything that gets children thinking about and using words earlier has to be a good thing.

When I stumbled upon Elizabeth’s blog, I was fascinated. She’s the mother of three boys, so I felt an instant bond! What follows is an interview with Elizabeth, so sit back and get to know her -- then visit her blog.(There are some great links in this interview, too -- and a free offer at the end!)

Me: How did you first get interested in baby signing?

Elizabeth: Being born deaf in one ear, I had an early interest in learning ASL (American Sign Language.) My mother also had an in-home daycare where she used Sign Language with the babies in her care. I knew I would sign with my babies one day.

Me: Did you take specific training for it? Can a mom just learn it from a book or video?

Elizabeth: I took a few ASL classes and did some studying on my own. I taught all three of my boys. Then I completed the Baby Signs Program Certification Training in 2009 and started teaching. The Baby Signs Program has some great resources to help parents get started. I started with the Baby Signs Starter Kit.

Me: I think anything that encourages communication and word recognition is great, but what are some of the other benefits of baby signing?

Elizabeth: Here are some:

*Reduces tantrums and frustrations
*Makes learning to talk easier
*Boosts self-esteem and self confidence
*Stimulates intellectual, social and emotional development
*Helps strengthen the parent-child bond
*Helps increase IQ (an average of 12 points by age 8!)
*Can help you potty train your child before the age of two

You can read more about the benefits of Baby Sign Language here.

Me: How is Baby Sign Language different from ASL?

Elizabeth: I teach the Baby Signs Program. We use about 90% ASL signs and the other 10% are “baby friendly” signs. Some ASL signs can be difficult for young babies or toddlers to make so we have easier versions. This program focuses on using Sign Language to bridge the communication gap between 6 months and 2 years, and it also serves as a tool for learning other concepts during toddlerhood. (For instance, we have toddler classes that incorporate signs with other lessons such as “self-control” and “cooperation.”)

Me: How did the program work with your children?

Elizabeth: I used the Baby Signs Program with all three of my boys with great success. They all signed differently and taught me a lot about the benefits of using Sign Language with your baby.

My first child was a very laid back baby and was just kind of happy with whatever, so he would only sign for things he really needed. He was talking well by 18 months. Now in second grade he is in advanced reading, spelling and math classes.

My second was a very “opinionated” child. He had a lot to say about what he wanted and how he wanted it. He was my best signer. By 12 months he was signing sentences like “More cookie please” (a favorite sentence of his). He started talking more than signing around the age of two. Having so many signs really helped us understand all the “toddler babble” and repeat back the correct words to him. He’s a very bright little guy.

My youngest was somewhere in the middle. We started a little later with him (at about 12 months), but he picked it up right away. Out of all three boys, my youngest helped me realize the most what a treat it is to be let into their little world. Early, he loved telling us about what he saw or heard using his signs. Now at two years old, he no longer uses signs to communicate, but he loves to practice them just for fun. His communication skills and letter/number recognition are well above normal for his age.

Me: Is there an optimal age to begin learning and is there an age that’s too late?

Elizabeth: You can start signing from birth, but generally anywhere between 6 months and 18 months is a good time to start. Most babies sign back (depending on when you start) between 8-12 months. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start. Even for a toddler that’s talking, it’s a fun way to learn new things and helps create a love of learning.

Me: Can you describe your blog for my readers?

Elizabeth: My blog, like me, is a little bit of everything. I talk about baby sign language, potty training, child development, working at home, raising my boys and many other things.

Me again: Just wanted to mention that last week she had the cutest list of things to do with plastic Easter eggs now that Easter is over!

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to let readers know?

Elizabeth: I’d love to offer your readers a free Baby Signs DVD Dictionary ($19.99 value) with their first order from me. Contact with your order to get your free DVD. Orders MUST be placed through me directly to get the free DVD. I only have a limited supply; this deal is while supplies last!

As well as being an Instructor for Baby Signs, I work in recruitment as well. We are looking for qualified instructors worldwide. If you would like to teach Baby Signs classes in your community please watch this video and email me at for an application.

There you have it. My boys are beyond this age, but I thought this was so interesting.

Be sure to visit Elizabeth’s blog and say hello.


JonathanG said...

This is a great idea! As a soon-to-be father, I would love for my wife and I to do this with our baby. Plus, I've always wanted to learn sign language, so this would be an added bonus. Great post mom!

Diane said...

I did a little signing with my kids until they were able to speak. It was helpful. :O)

Susannah said...

This is remarkable! Too bad my kids are too old to try it. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. :~D

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for having me, I Love sharing this passion of mine!

Unknown said...

I did some signing with my boys. My youngest loved it, my middle ignored it, (he's had autism and had no desire to communicate in any form), my oldest preferred to talk once he stared at 10 months.
I used signing for spelling and other things- it's good for dyslexia and dyspraxia. I still incorporate it in lessons, the multi-sensory approach helps the learning process.

Some Baby Signs I've seen aren't 'real Sign Language'. I always used 'the real signs' in case they needed them one day.

I still enjoy ASL and plan to get certified as an interpreter one day...eventually..

Karen said...

That is wonderful. Wish that was around when mine were little. Great interview.

Victoria said...

This is something I wanted to do with my daughter but she's stubborn and was never really interested. I have hope for the future though!

Jean Wise said...

Great idea and wonderful interview. I sent the info onto my daughter!

Donnetta said...

We started using sign with our daughter when she was 9 months old. They were afraid she had lost her hearing due to an illness as a newborn. It was so amazingly freeing to be able to communicate with her.

When we brought our little guy into our house just a year ago at one year old, we started signing with him also. Again, reduced the whining and frustration while increasing the communication.

Even though he is now picking up his verbal skills, he still signs.

My 14 year old son has been able to use his sign knowledge with a 1 year old as he helped at a local MOPS.

I now often use ASL as the actions for songs when I'm teaching songs to the children at church.

I'm a huge advocate of it, hearing or not. It made a big difference for us!

This was a great interview. Thanks for sharing it!

Joy@TPMG said...

Signing with babies is such a great idea. I am your newest follower.

Jenny said...

My daughter-in-law did this with our Grands...and the preschool also teaches it. It's such a great idea. Thanks for a wonderful post.

KCSherri said...

I took sign language classes years ago - and have been able to use it off and on...

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Have a great day!

Honey Mommy said...

I used baby sign on both of my boys and it was wonderful! They could tell me what they needed before they could talk!

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