Category: Care

IMG_1544

Baby Sign Language

You might hate seeing your baby wailing, and you have no idea why. Is he hungry? Tired? Too hot? You could just wait until your baby learns to speak, but the reality is that you could be waiting for a word or two from seven months to a year. The good news? There’s a considerable way to start communicating with your baby at an earlier age(6months). It’s called baby sign language, and it could provide the tools you’ve been looking for to avoid frustration and keep a parent-baby bonding strong.

Why is baby sign language important?

It’s Fun!

There are many reasons for introducing your baby to baby signing. From the moment you see your baby repeat their first sign, you’ll be impressed and happy. Babies love signing because it gives them a meaning to connect with you more often and convey many different feelings. The best part is that there are a hundred daily chances to teach signs!

Making Words Visual 

Unlike a spoken word, a sign can be held static for a baby to imitate. Signs give meaning to words that would otherwise be too abstract for your baby to comprehend until they were much older. For example, the word wind does not refer to something your baby can see, but using an iconic gesture makes the subject instantly understood.

More Independent

Studies show that your baby feels confident in his ability to tell you what he wants, when he wants it, it gives him a greater sense of independence. Because he has a greater understanding of his environment, and because he has another of learning, associating, and understanding, he will feel freer to explore. You are providing a “scaffolding” for your baby’s learning experiences, whereby your baby makes new discoveries knowing you there for support and encouragement. If he needs help along the way, he easily able to ask for it.

Building knowledge

Your baby is able to take charge of his own education by indicating to you with a simple gesture just what it is he would like to know more about. He will also become very skillful at extracting further information from you! Baby sign language is a useful tool for assisting your baby in his development of concepts. Babies learn to form thoughts by their experiences and are continually refining their ideas and understanding. Infants start with “the big picture” and work from there. For example, when a baby first encounters a creature with four legs, tail, and fur, and is told it is a cat, suddenly every animal that loosely resembles a cat falls into the same category. This is because cat is the only word they may have learned to date to identify an animal.

Research has shown that child sign language may give a typically developing child a way to communicate months earlier, achieve better speech recognition skills over the first 3 years than those who only depend on vocal communication. This may help ease frustration between the ages of 6 months and 2 years — when children begin to know what they need, want, and feel, but don’t necessarily have the verbal skills to express themselves. Children who have developmental delays may also benefit from this. 

Keep in mind that it’s important to continue talking to your child as you teach baby sign language. Spoken communication is an essential part of your child’s speech development.

References:

Geers AE, Mitchell CM, Warner-Czyz A, Wang NY, Eisenberg LS; CDaCI Investigative Team. Early Sign Language Exposure and Cochlear Implantation Benefits. Pediatrics. 2017;140(1):e20163489. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-3489

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28759398/

MacDonald K, LaMarr T, Corina D, Marchman VA, Fernald A. Real-time lexical comprehension in young children learning American Sign Language. Dev Sci. 2018;21(6):e12672. doi:10.1111/desc.12672

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6191391/

Goodwyn SW. (2000). Impact of symbolic gesturing on early language development.
link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1006653828895

Hoecker JL. (2016). Is baby sign language worthwhile?
mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-sign-language/faq-20057980

B7291AFE-47D7-45E4-90B5-5A8DD4958DC8-scaled.jpg

The Importance of Developmental Milestones for Every Child 0 to 6 Years of Age

Developmental milestones are barometers for skills that each child should be able to do by a set age. They are the primary standard that kids are measured by to make sure they are developing appropriately. Each skill builds upon one another. When a milestone goes unmet or is delayed, several problems can ensue. Developmental milestones are skills that you should always consider as a parent of kids 0 to about 6 years old. 

Typical milestones categories include Social-emotional, Movement, Language/Communication, and Cognition/Problem Solving. Here at OT Park, we have compiled a list of milestones for children ages 0-6 years old in the areas of:

  • Gross motor
  • Grasp patterns
  • Scissor skills
  • Toilet skills
  • Home chores
  • Dressing skills
  • Scissor skills
  • Pencil grip development

So, how do you know if your child is developing appropriately and meeting age-appropriate milestones? After downloading your OT Park Milestone checklist, based on your child’s age, try skills in the category younger age-level and then the older age-level to see what your child can do. If you realize that your child is having difficulty completing age-level activities or younger, reach out to your pediatrician for next steps to better help your child. OT Park is gearing up to launch telehealth services and will be available and honored to help your child in any way that we can. If you find that your child is meeting the age-appropriate milestone, this is great. Keep working on the next skill. 

Either way, providing your child with what we OTs like to call the “just right challenge,” or a challenge that isn’t over or underwhelming, can help your child build confidence, strength, and endurance without making them feel as though they are incapable! 

Keeping an eye on your child’s development is vital for their future success and well-being! 

Also, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.