Many parents ask me the same questions when it come to signing with babies. One such popular question is, "Will my baby rely too much on signing and delay their speech?"
Answer: Absolutely not. In fact signing to your baby will encourage your baby to talk sooner and speed up the process compared to babies that are not signed to. This was scientifically proven in a research conducted by Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn. They have over two decades of scientific research on the use of sign with hearing babies, including a longitudinal study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Government.
This study took 140 families with babies at 11months old. Each family was randomly assigned to a signing or non-signing group. The groups were equal in sex, birth, order of children, tendency to vocalize, parents education, and even income levels. To make the test fair.
The study proved without a doubt the following information to be true.
Babies that were signed to:
1. talked earlier (24 month old babies were talking like 28 month olds - a 4 month lead)
2. had larger vocabularies
3. were putting together longer sentences
4. (36 month old signers were talking like 47 month old - that is almost a full year ahead of the average age mates)
5. at 8 years old, those who had used sign language as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ on the WISC-III than their non- signing peers. (remember the groups were equal in parent education, income, sex, order of children etc...)
If you think about it logically... why would a baby continue to sign once learning to talk?
Several situations will promote and rely on verbal communication such as:
New mobility... climbing playgrounds, running around corners, behind chairs, in closets, children will engage in calling out and have less and less eye contact with their parent as they wander about.
New activities... bikes to ride, puzzels, crayons, sidewalk chalk, painting etc... signing is not as convenient as talking. Most toddlers will not put down their projects to sign, they will simply use words.
Complex Ideas... children want to discuss stories, tell about the world around them, they have complex thoughts and will not resort to using one sign to describe what they see anymore, they'll use many words.
New people... children will meet new kids at a park, new people in a store etc... most of the world speaks around us, conversing with all these people will require words.
It is much easier to say words than sign for these little guys, so no worries about transition to speech. In fact I am quite sad that my son doesn't use as much sign as he did before and I am looking forward to baby Nash signing his little heart out to me. I already started teaching him MILK. We'll see.
Hope I ease any doubts or fears you may have had.
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