Pros and cons of using sign language with your child

“Are you teaching your baby to sign?”, “Are you going to use sign language with your baby?”, “My baby knows over 50 signs already, and she’s only 10 months! Are you teaching Evalee sign language?”. These are just a few examples of what I was subjected to when I was pregnant and after I had my daughter Evalee. Honestly, I didn’t know there was such as thing as baby sign language until I got pregnant. The idea sounded intriguing… so I did some research and purchased a few books. I have “Baby Sign Language Basics, Early Communication for Hearing Babies & Toddlers” by Monta Z. Briant, “Teach Your Tot to Sign – The Parent’s Guide to American Sign Language” by Stacy A. Thompson and the children’s board book “My First Signs” by Annie Kubler. I thumbed through them a bit before she was born and started to use some basic signs like milk, more, eat & sleep when she was around 6 months or so. Evalee really took to the board book with its wonderful illustrations. If I had to recommend one book that would be it.

Evalee is now 19 months and uses only a few signs. Her catalog consists of milk, more, eat, cookie, out, mommy, dog, book, water, please & thank you. I was excited about it at first, to be able to communicate with her as early as 10 or 11 months was great. Lately I’ve been questioning my decision to teach her sign. I realize all kids develop at their own speed but she isn’t talking as much as her peers. She seems to rely on the signs a lot, so much so that I have yet to hear her say “Mommy”. Otherwise, she points and grunts. This may be a result of being home with me all the time and not in daycare or around other toddlers much. I try to set up play dates, but it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I’m not necessarily worried or concerned, I know her hearing is perfect, it would just be nice to hear “Mommy”. Is that selfish?

I remember speaking with a friend a while back about her daughter who was a few months old at the time and asked if they were considering using sign and she said no. Her reason being that a member of her family used sign language with their child, who was over 2, and she wasn’t speaking much at all. The funny thing is, all advocates of baby sign language argue that babies are prone to talking sooner when exposed to sign language, which was one of my main reasons for teaching Evalee to sign.

On the flip side, both my brother-in-law and cousin-in-law have used sign with their children and both kids are speaking really well for their age. Sarah will be 2 in March and speaks very well and Carson is 2 & a half and you can have a full conversation with him. Who knows, right?

Overall, I’m glad I have some signs as a means of communicating with Evalee and I have to say she is developing by leaps and bounds in other areas, her physicality is amazing. I would love to hear from other parents about their experience with this…

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