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Suffolk Center for Speech


Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language is the use of sign language with typically developing hearing infants for the purpose of facilitating communication. It teaches babies keywords that they can use to communicate before they start speaking verbally. Baby sign language is not the same as American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a complete language with its own complex system of grammar and word order rules, whereas the term “baby sign language” refers to using signs and gestures to communicate with baby. Some parents prefer to use signs from ASL and others prefer to create their own gestures or signs to communicate with their baby that meet their specific needs. Supporters of baby sign language claim that baby sign language encourages earlier communication of wants, thoughts, and needs as well as advanced speech and language development, reduced frustration, improved literacy skills, and a strengthened parent-child bond. Many parents have reported a decrease in parenting related stress as it allows them to be more aware of their children’s wants and needs. Typically, babies can begin signing between the ages of 8-12 months; however, you can begin to introduce signs and gestures at 6 months of age. Some functional keywords that you can begin to introduce are “more” and “give me”. Early exposure to signing can promote language development and reasoning skills. Babies who sign learn how to communicate with words and simple phrases.


– Jessica D.

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