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Baby Sign Language:

Julie Cusanelli

April 3, 2007


Sign Language with Infants


            A new wave has recently come through America. Fads tend to come and go but there is one that seems to be sticking around. Latest research has been showing that the teaching infants sign language can be very helpful when communicating with them.

            Take for example, mother Jennifer Neale. She started teaching her daughter sign language at the age of only 5 months. Her daughter was able to communicate and they both thought it was fun. Neale noticed that her daughter's vocabulary and communication skills were stronger than ever. She even said that she never had problems when trying to find out what her daughter needed or wanted. She is one of many moms who are trying out sign language. Research also shows that young children are able to use their hands for movement faster then they can speak which allows them to use the sign language. Diane Brady says, "Signing not only increases the parents' bond and interaction with their babies, it helps reduce a major source of tantrums and stress for infants. It also creates a more physically expressive environment" (Brady 2000).

            In the next article, a researcher named Joseph Garcia started a business called, "Signing with your Baby". He started this based on watching a deaf infant use sign language to talk to his parents. He found that around six or seven months of age, the infants have so much going on that they want to express. Another researcher found that deaf children are able to communicate through sign language at the age of eight months whereas hearing children say their first words at about twelve months. Janet Jamieson also says this, "So all of this tells us that the brain is actually ready to produce language earlier than the tongue and vocal mechanisms are able to allow the child to express that" (none). This seems to be a way for infants to communicate what's on their mind before they are actually able to say it.

            Another set of researchers decided to further explore sign language with babies. Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn did a longitudinal study that showed babies who signed understood more words, had better vocabularies and participated in more difficult play than babies who didn't use sign language. It was found that babies who signed later had more interest in books, threw less temper tantrums and bonded better with parents. Also later, when the researchers went back to the children at about age 7 or 8, they noticed a higher IQ in the signing children.

            The two sets of research use different ideas for sign language. Garcia uses the actual American Sign Language version and Acredolo uses individual parents' making up of the language. Either way, it still seems to work and the infants are being able to speak sooner. The new DVD collection called Baby Einstein also has their own version called Signing with Baby. This too uses American Sign Language to help infants communicate. The video has parents and babies using sign language to express the meaning of wants and needs. This new idea seems to have nothing but a positive effect on all of its users.




Brady, Diane. Look who's talking with their hands. Business Week, 3694, 132-134.

CBC News (March 2004). Baby Signing. April 2nd, 2007.

Talk to your baby. April 2nd, 2007.


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