Baby Sign Language For Your Culturally Diverse Child

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Lizzie Lau

Baby Sign Language For Your Culturally Diverse Child

My daughter was exposed to nearly equal parts English and Spanish when she was a baby. However, I relied on Baby Sign Language to communicate with her before she became adept at verbalizing what she wanted.

I had seen several notices at our local library about baby sign language classes when Offspring was a baby, but I never managed to get to one.

One day my sister in law asked me if I was teaching Offspring to sign, and I told her about the classes that I was thinking of attending.  She told me I didn’t need to bother with classes, and to check out this website:

Baby Sign Language

It was so easy.  There are videos for each sign, so I was able to choose the ones I though she would need first.

Will Learning Baby Sign Language Delay Speech?

I see the question on a lot of forums, “My child is growing up bilingual, will teaching my child sign language as well delay his speech?”

In our case I’m certain it was the exact opposite.  As soon as Offspring learned her first sign, she expressed absolute delight at being able to communicate a need and have it met immediately.

She picked up 4 signs her first day, and then she picked it up so fast that I lost count.  As soon as she started speaking, she would say the word and do the sign at the same time.  She picked up spoken language really quickly, and we stopped learning signs.

People who met her when she was a toddler were always amazed at how clearly she communicated, and her vocabulary.  I credit Baby Sign Language with letting her communicate early.

The fact that she spoke so clearly and with such a great vocabulary at a young age is due to the fact that she practiced CONSTANTLY.  If she was awake, she was talking.  She even talked in her sleep.  She still does.

Vocabulary Courtesy of Netflix

I’d like to say that I’m one of those parents that reads a dozen storybooks each day, but I’m not.  We do read a lot, but a great deal of her vocabulary has always come from inappropriate television.  She has always watched “Mama Shows” on Netflix with me.

These days I’m back to teaching her Spanish, and Netflix is helping me.  We watch shows in Spanish, and I translate for her. I’m glad the language synapses were built when she was exposed to Spanish as a baby because she picks up vocabulary pretty quickly.

4 thoughts on “Baby Sign Language For Your Culturally Diverse Child”

  1. Keep this in mind for your future Gabycitos, it is easy and so wonderful to see them communicating before they have words.

  2. This is amazing Liz. I had no idea babies could do sign language. Ebi is a smart little cutie.

  3. Your story gave me goosebumps. I suspect that every child, whether they have a health issue or not, would benefit from being able to communicate simple needs without crying. Exhausted parents would also benefit from not having to try to crack the crying code.

  4. My 3rd son had some health issues and still had not make a single word sound by the time he was 18 months old. no baba no mama no dada. We had a speech therapist come in and work with him. I don't know how she did it, but she taught him (and me and his older brothers) to sign a bit. What an amazing difference it made in our lives! Suddenly this crying toddler was able to tell us he was hungry or thirsty or wanted more. I am amazed at all that must have been going on in his trapped little mind that he was physically unable to get across. Learning sign opened up so many doors and he became such a sweet happy kid! He suddenly had some control over his life! What a gift. I just wish I had known more and gotten him help earlier.

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