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Mar 31

Baby Sign Language Training Hosted by PAT

A group of twelve fathers, mothers, and grandparents of infants and toddlers participated in a baby sign language group training event on March 3 sponsored by Ringgold County Parents as Teachers (PAT).  The educational meeting taught parents the benefits of using baby sign language with their children to support their language development.  Nancy Boswell, Speech/Language Pathologist with Green Hills AEA, presented the program.

Baby sign language lets babies as young as six months old communicate their needs to caregivers.  Babies who sign are happier, less frustrated, have fewer behavior problems, talk earlier with a wider language base, and get a long-lasting boost to their intellectual development.

Babies use sign language all the time. They wave bye-bye, hold up their arms when they want to be held, shake their head for yes or no, and hold and shake their cup when they finish or want more to drink.  Your baby is signing!  As a parent, we say the words.  Just as crawling does not stop a child from walking, signing will not stop a child from talking.

Research has shown that a 24-month old child who has used baby sign language will have a 27-28-month language level.  At 36 months of age, the child will have a 47-month language level.  By age 8 years, a child who used baby sign will have an IQ average of 12 points higher than their peers.  Sign helps to increase connections in the brain:  Baby waves bye-bye, parent says bye-bye, someone leaves.  The baby understands the meaning and makes connections in their brains.  Babies understand words before they can talk, and baby sign can help.

It is never too early or too late to introduce baby sign to your child.  You can start at birth!  Expose the child in the first 8 months.  Between 8-12 months of age, you will start to see your baby copying some signs.  After 12 months, they learn signs more quickly but may use them for a shorter period of time as they will begin talking and stop signing.  Just remember to sign and verbalize the word together every time.  Repetition is the key to making those connections in the brain! If your child already has their own signs for specific things, use that sign. It doesn’t have to be an official sign.  Use what works for your family.

Interested in learning baby sign?  Use your smart phone and try the “Smart Hands Sign Language” application.  Searching the internet provides many sources.  For more information about baby sign language, you can contact Robin McDonnell at Ringgold County Public Health at 641-464-0691 or Green Hills AEA at 800-432-5804.

Pictured below is 16-month-old Kaelyn Schafer, daughter of Sarah and Robert Schafer of Mount Ayr, practicing her sign language.  Sarah and Robert both attended the baby sign language class hosted by Parents as Teachers.  Kaelyn is showing signing the word for “more.”

Kaelyn Schafer Signing