Sign Language May Help Babies With Spoken Language

January 31, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


If you’ve ever been frustrated waiting for your little one to mutter his or her first words, sign language may be the way to go.  Many parents these days are turning to sign language to communicate with their young babies.

Babies develop motor skills long before language skills so sign language is a viable option.  This technique is also used sometimes on children who have speech delays.  In order to get started all you need is a patient parent and a baby who is ready to communicate.  

One example is two year old Faith Owens, who currently works with a speech therapist. She has learned to sign over 20 things including common word such as “milk” and “more”. 

"It's allowed her to become part of the family, It's given her confidence. It's allowed her to get what she wants and not be as frustrated," speech therapist, Laure Newhard says.

Experts say any baby can use sign language as an integral part of normal language development.  While some parents fear that sign language will delay traditional language development, experts disagree and argue that it actually helps children learn traditional language quicker.

Newhard says, “" It really helps to prompt language from them because you're verbalizing at the same time you're signing. They're making an association. They figure out if I do this with my hands I might get what I want."

Research suggests that sign language may ease the frustration babies often have because they can’t communicate.  Sign language bridges the communication gap between babies and their families.  

If you want to start teaching your baby or young child sign language it’s important to set realistic expectations and be patient.  In addition, be sure to teach your child traditional language at the same time so when he or she has the ability they will start to verbalize their thoughts as wel. More information about teaching your baby sign language can be found online at 



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