Research on Baby Sign Language

Research on baby sign language has found that teaching baby signs improved cognitive and emotional development. Far from slowing down speech, baby sign language actually increases the rate of verbal development and at the same time increases the parent/child bond.

The most significant research was an NIH-funded study comparing two groups of 11-month-old babies. One group was taught baby sign language. The second group was given verbal training. Surprisingly, the signing group were more advanced talkers than the group given verbal training. The lead of the signing group continued to grow, with the signers exhibiting verbal skills three months ahead of the non-signers at two years old. Their lead seemed to shrink a little after two years old, but even at three years old, the signers were still ahead1.

The authors of the NIH study followed up with the children at eight years old. Surprisingly, there was still a difference. Signers showed IQ’s 12 points higher than the non-signers, even though they had long since stopped signing. This put the signers in the top 25% of eight year olds, compared to the non-signers, who were close to average2.

Results like these have led to research on how signing could be used to improve early infant education. This research has turned up a whole host of benefits to signing. Some of these benefits include making mothers feel better about themselves and more “tuned in” to their baby, reducing baby distress and improving communication between parent and child3.

Now keep in mind that these studies have all been relatively small – the NIH-funded study, for example, had only 100 babies. However, these early results look very promising. These results, combined with all the anecdotal reports from signing parents, gives a lot of reason to be very optimistic about the results from future baby sign language research.

1. Susan W. Goodwyn, Linda P. Acredolo and Catherine A. Brown. Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24, 81-103 (2000). Link to paper
2. Linda P. Acredolo, and Susan W. Goodwyn, The Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy on IQ at Age 8, International Conference on Infant Studies (July 18, 2000: Brighton, UK).
3. Claire D. Vallotton, Catherine C. Ayoub, Symbols Build Communication and Thought: The Role of Gestures and Words in the Development of Engagement Skills and Social-Emotional Concepts During Toddlerhood, Social Development 19:3,601-626 (August 2010) Link to abstract

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The Deluxe Baby Sign Language Kit, bundles together everything you need to get started with signing in one box, at a steep discount. The kit includes: (1) Baby Sign Language Guide Book; (2) Baby Sign Language Dictionary; (3) Baby Sign Language Flash Cards; and (4) Baby Sign Language Wall Chart.

Baby Sign Language Guide Book shows you how to teach your child how to sign. The book begins with a Quick Start Guide that will teach you your first signs and get you ready to sign in 30 minutes. As your baby progresses, you can delve into more advanced topics like combining signs to make phrases, using props, and transitioning to speech. (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Dictionary contains over 600 signs, including the most common words, the alphabet and numbers. The dictionary helps you expand your child’s vocabulary and has the breadth of coverage that lets you follow any child’s natural interests. Each sign is illustrated with two or more diagrams, showing you the starting position, the ending position, and intermediate motion. This makes learning new signs easy.  (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards include 52 sturdy board (4×6 inches) flash cards, covering a variety of basic signs. The flash cards allow you to teach words, such as animal names, that Baby is not exposed to in everyday life. The face of the flash cards shows the word and image for the child. The back of the flash cards show how the sign is performed – a handy reminder for the adult.  (Regularly $24.95)

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart includes 22 basic signs and makes a handy reminder for caregivers. The Baby Sign Language Wall Chart covers basic signs, like eat, drink, and sleep. Hang the poster in Baby’s nursery to help babysitters or other occasional caregivers learn and decode the most commonly used baby signs.  (Regularly $9.95)

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Learn the best techniques for effectively teaching baby sign language. Including:

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•  Phrases – teach your baby to combine signs and communicate more complex thoughts (Chapter 6).

•  Taming the Terrible Twos – reduce frustration and tantrums by enabling your toddler to communicate (Chapter 7).

•  Transitioning to Speech – use sign language to expedite and improve speech development (Chapter 8).

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Sarah learned her first 10 signs at six month and it made our lives much easier. Instead of screaming, she could tell us when she was hungry, thirsty, or tired. She learned another 50 signs by nine months and that was a blast. Now she is talking much earlier than the other children in her preschool and we think it is because of her signing.

We can’t imagine missing out on all the little things she shared with baby sign language. Thank You!

– Bennett & Melissa Z., CA

Pediatrician Approved

“It’s easy to see why so many parents swear by it, why child care centers include it in their infant and toddler classrooms, and why it has become so commonplace as an activity of daily learning … we approve.”

Heading Home With Your Newborn (Second Edition)

Dr. Laura A. Jana MD FAAP & Dr .Jennifer Shu MD FAAP

American Academy of Pediatricians

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards

52 high quality flash cards (4 x 6″). Featuring:

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I was thrilled to see how easy the signs were for Abigail (3) and Eden (21 months). Much to my surprise they could figure out many of the signs from the flashcards on their own.

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Study: Signing Enriches

“The Sign Training group told us over and over again … [signing] made communication easier and interactions more positive.”

“these data demonstrate clearly that … [signing] … seems to “jump start” verbal development”

“can facilitate and enrich interactions between parent and child”

Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development

Dr. Susan Goodwyn, Dr. Linda Acredolo, & Dr. Catherine Brown

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

Baby Sign Language Dictionary

The Baby Sign Language Dictionary includes :

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Nicholas loves his signs and it lights up our lives every time he shares one of his little secrets. He is so observant, and we would miss it all without the signs.

– Donald Family, NY

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart

The full color wall chart (24 x 36″) includes 17 everyday signs. Use the wall chart for:

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Everyone thought I was nuts when I started. A month later, all my friends saw Michelle’s first signs. Then they wanted to know how they could start.

Michelle is talking now and doesn’t sign much anymore, but it gave her a headstart over other children her age. Everyone says she talks like a three year old. Now she is helping me teach her baby brother Jordan how to sign.

– Adelaide S., CA

Study: Better in School

A group of second graders who signed as infants, performed better academically than a control group six years later. The signers had a 12 IQ point advantage.

Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy at Age 8

Dr. Linda P. Acredolo (Professor, U.C. Davis)

Dr. Susan W. Goodwyn (Professor, California State University)

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As you can tell, we love Baby Sign Language. It transformed the way we interacted with our children, and we want every family to have the opportunity. Baby Sign Language will make a difference for your child. Give it a try.

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5 Responses to “Research on Baby Sign Language”

  1. Heather

    I started using ASL with my son at 4 months old. By the time he was a year old, he was able to sign for nearly any need or desire. We did have to prompt him to start communicating verbally by 18 months old, as he would always sign, rather than try to speak. By the time he was 2 years old, he was speaking in full sentences, as in 5-8 word sentences. It felt like it just happened over night. One day he would hardly speak, or we would have to constantly encourage him to do so, and the next day he just seemed to bypass any expectation we had ever set for him.

    My son is now 6 years old and in 1st grade. His is in the highest reading and math group available to him in his class and his language and literacy skills are comparable to those of a third or fourth grader. He actually reads chapter books for fun! Every where he goes, he has a book with him.

    I now have a 11 month old daughter that is already signing some of her basic needs (milk, food, diaper..) I have no doubt that this will benefit her just as much as it did my son!

  2. Hannah

    Your article on baby sign language is very insightful. For a research paper I am writing for my English class I am trying to cite this article. For proper credit, I’d like to know the author(s) of this article. It is very eye opening and will help my essay. If you could just email me that’d be great. If you cannot give me the names of the author(s) than that is all right. Amazing essay, I’m planning on teaching my kids ASL because I know how beneficial it is.

    ADMIN – Hi Hannah,

    The author is Lila Retnasaba.

  3. Mimi

    I am using your website as part of my thesis dissertation as using sign language to learn words fluently. I am trying to cite this website to give authors credit. However, I cannot find the author(s) who published this website. Would it be possible to email the authors who published babysignlanguage.com?

    ADMIN – Hi Mimi,

    The author is Lila Retnasaba

  4. Mandy

    Hello,

    May I ask who the publisher may be and when it was published? I would like to cite this website giving credit to the author for my thesis project.

    ADMIN – Hi Mandy,

    This page is co-authored
    Lila Retnasaba,
    Brooke Parker
    Mey Lau

  5. Neeraj Modi

    The most recent research paper you site is 9 years old. Has their been any research since?

    Thanks

    Neeraj Modi

    ADMIN – Hi Neeraj,

    None that we are aware of.