Frequently Asked Questions.

Why should I teach my baby to sign?
Your baby can develop a vocabulary of at least 50 words before they have even said their first spoken word. This has a huge impact on your baby's further language development as well as reducing their frustration of not being able to communicate or be understood - this ultimately increases their self esteem
(Please see Benefits of Signing for further information)

When is the best time to start?
Today - as early as you like. The sooner you start - the more your baby will learn. By practicing the signing and getting into the habit is an important tool for successful signing. The average baby will only start to sign back anywhere between 6 - 10 months of age. This is provided that there is at least one person in the baby's life that signs to them on a consistent basis. Baby will sign back when they are ready.

Is it too late to start if my baby is already saying a few words?
It is never too late to start. Most people are visual and when one combines a visual and auditory medium (to support the spoken language) the language is reinforced. If your baby or toddler has already started to speak, signing can still be useful for their further language development and understanding of concepts. We are never too old to learn.

If I use signs, will it delay my baby's speech?
No, although many parents are concerned that if they do sign to their baby that it will delay speech, or that their baby will become lazy and not want to learn to talk. Reseach has proven that pre-verbal babies who learn to sign actually speak sooner and have a larger receptive and expressive vocabulary than those who don't learn to sign.
Studies also show that babies who learn to sign tend to have a stronger command of verbal language and also begin speaking at an earlier age.
A good quote is …."crawling is to walking as signing is to talking…"

Can I make up my own signs?
It is not recommended that you make up your own signs. However, if your baby is interested in an object that you don't have a sign for, you might want to make up a sign for that particular object. Make a mental note of any signs you decide to "invent" as you can easily forget them and it becomes confusing for both you and baby. Also should you or baby need to communicate with the Deaf, or another hearing baby that has learnt Baby Sign Language you may not be understood.

How long before baby signs back?
Each baby is unique and each baby has their own developmental timeline.

I don't have time to sign to my baby or learn a new language?
Baby Signing is a very natural process that becomes part of your daily life and it is not meant to be something that is time consuming or stressful. Baby Signing can happen at the meal table, while driving in the car or while playing. Baby Signing involves learning a few iconic signs which are easily remembered and it is not the same as learning South African Sign Language with it's unique grammatical structures.

Why is my baby not signing back?
Remember, your baby is unique, and will only sign when they are ready to sign, just like a child will only speak when they are ready to speak. Remain consistent in signing to your baby, and make the process fun and exciting. Remembering that if your baby is not signing back to you, you are still building a wonderful receptive language foundation for them.

Why should I attend a workshop?
As Sign Language is a living visual-spatial language, it is a lot easier to learn face-to-face with a registered Baby Hands Licensee than on your own. Just as some people prefer to learn to exercise by attending a class some prefer a home video. By attending a workshop, you also get to meet parents who are just as committed to their baby's development as you are. You are bound to have some fun, laugh a little and grow a lot.

What if I already know what my baby wants?
Fantastic! It is great if you already understand your baby's different cries and what they mean. However, when your baby learns to sign, they can be very specific in what they are trying to communicate. E.G. your baby is fussing and you assume that baby is hungry. Wouldn't it be awesome if baby could sign her specific need such as 'banana' to you?

How does singing affect my baby's brain development?
A baby's brain develops quickest in it's first 12 months, acting like a super sponge absorbing everything around them. Thereafter, between 13 months and 6 years, your baby's brain develops a lot slower than it did in the first 12 months of it's life. Signing with your baby encourages Whole Brain Development by stimulating both Left brain (Language) and Right brain (Vision) at the same time. You get the best of both worlds

Why use music with Sign Language?
Music enhances language development, special reasoning and organization skills as well as motivation to communicate. Signing, like music is rhythmical and the combination provide a natural means by which to practice and interact. By incorporating signs with nursery rhymes and songs, you are teaching your baby about the natural rhythms of the spoken language.

How can I contact a registered Baby Hands Licensee in my area?
Please visit our 'Find an Instructor Page'