Home > Speech & Language 0-3 > Can Baby Sign Language Delay Speech Development?

Can Baby Sign Language Delay Speech Development?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 1 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Sign Language Communication Baby Child

Baby sign language classes are widely promoted as being great for babies and parents, as babies can learn signs to communicate with before they’re able to fully talk. But could the use of baby sign language end up delaying a child’s development of speech?

Exponents of baby signing widely extol the benefits of the technique, claiming that it can aid non-verbal communication, especially in the time during which babies are unable to vocally express their desires. Whilst there is no doubt that this is the case and the signing method can open up a valuable stream of communication, some parents worry that using baby sign language could be discouraging or delaying their children from learning to talk.

What is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign language is a method of communication using very simple hand signs that was developed to help babies and young children to communicate their needs before they’re able to actually talk. As far as ingenuity goes, it’s a great approach, as it empowers young children to learn to communicate with their parents regarding their basic needs and desires (food, drink, sleep etc) and learn words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

Babies and Communication

Baby signing classes are available for parents to attend with their little ones and they can go from about six months of age. Every child is different in terms of when they actually start using the signs themselves. Some start early, within a few months of being exposed to the signs, whilst others may not really begin to pick them up until they’re one and a half to nearly two years old.

This is where the concerns of some parents lie. Baby signing tutors emphasise the benefits of the communication method for non-verbal communication, but by the time they’re reaching two years or older, shouldn’t children be focusing more on actually beginning to learn to say words, rather than signing them?

It’s not helped by the fact that not everyone who’s in contact with the child knows the signs. It may be fine at home, but if they’re with their grandparents, other family members or friends and they don’t know the signs, then the object of the communication is somewhat defeated.

How to Encourage Speech

If you’re worried that using baby sign language may be dissuading your child to have a go at talking, then are steps you can take to help this. When you’re signing, always remember to say the word too – as you should be taught at baby signing classes – and be sure that your child can see your face as you say the word, as well as hear it clearly.

If you think they’re relying too much on signs, then focus more on speaking, rather than signing. Take time regularly to try and encourage your child to learn to say words. For example, you could say one new word a day and see if your child will have a go at repeating it. If they’re not keen, then don’t push the issue.

Many children will learn and pick up speech and talking in their own time, but if you are worried that their speech is delayed, then speak to a health visitor or doctor for advice. In the majority of cases, it may be nothing to worry about.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Pat
    Re: The 'Terrible Twos'
    child throws temper tantrum when its cleanup time even when singing the cleanup song, hits my hand and starts pulling the toys back out of the…
    13 March 2020
  • steve
    Re: Child Temper Tantrums
    we work with 5 year olds to 12 year olds.We try to tell the kids what are the basic rules the first day of school.We call them friends from…
    25 October 2019
  • ally c
    Re: B.F. Skinner's Behavioural Theory
    This information has really helped me with my HNC assessment for promoting language, literacy and numeracy. with a theorist…
    16 October 2019
  • pape
    Re: The 'Terrible Twos'
    im a break person at a daycare been that sense 17 yrs
    26 August 2019
  • baby
    Re: Behavioural Disorders in Children
    We have several children at our center that throw tantrums and have behavior issues you have to keep learning ways to deal…
    18 July 2019
  • Dee
    Re: Child Temper Tantrums
    I have 5 children and with each child I learned handle the tantrums differently.
    18 April 2019
  • Pat
    Re: Sibling Rivalry in Children
    I have two kids, 6 and 2, both of them seem to have a very strange attachement to me, they smell my skin and as they do it they…
    3 April 2019
  • Tapiya
    Re: Personality Development in Babies
    So is this all personality development during infancy??in other words i have that hearding on my assignment so should i just…
    9 March 2019
  • IQBAL SINGH SIDHU
    Re: The Effects of Punishment on Children
    Punishment is never a way of teaching. It can disturb teaching process. Only motivation is good effort below the age…
    1 March 2019
  • tasha
    Re: Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development
    does all children develop various skills and abilities at the same time
    12 February 2019