About Baby Sign
Baby sign language uses simple signs along with spoken language to help your baby identify keywords and communicate with their hands before they can talk.
Babies can understand word meanings many months before they can co-ordinate all the complex muscles in their mouths to speak. There is now scientific evidence that babies can understand word meaning between 6-9 months.
Given the right level of input babies will often start signing meaningfully from eight months. But at younger ages many babies will simply smile when parents sign something they want like a nappy change or some milk! It is important to note, however, that just as with other developmental milestones, such as sitting up or walking, the age at which your baby will sign can vary quite a lot and will also depend on how much input they get. In other words, the more you sign to them, the quicker they will pick it up!
Signs are always used with spoken language and never replace speech. Before babies can talk, using keyword signs alongside spoken language gives babies a visual clue to word meaning and helps them to identify which sounds work together to make a single word.
Most parents find that their signing baby's first words are the same words they have been signing and usually as babies or young toddlers become more confident with their words, they naturally drop using signs. Just like adults, babies and toddlers always gravitate to the quickest and easiest means of communication!
And for babies growing up in a bilingual environment, signs can bridge the two languages, making it easier to learn that the sounds “báinne”, “lait” or “Milch” mean the exact same as “milk”.