What the research says...
We love signing with babies, because it gives babies a tool for (more) expression at a time when they are still developing speech. Parents consistently report that using signs with their infants makes their lives just a little bit easier. You may be interested in studies into Baby Sign Language and their findings so far. Overall, it seems babies who sign show a larger vocabulary by age two, better sentence structure in the early stages of language development, better social skills, and increased fine motor skills. Most importantly, parents and children who sign together experience an increase in bonding. To learn more, below are several books and research studies about signing with babies that should prove helpful to you:
Dr. Joseph Garcia began to research the use of American Sign Language with hearing babies of hearing parents at Alaska Pacific University in 1987. See the book Toddler Talk: The First Signs of Intelligent Life for more of his research and findings.
Marilyn Daniels, professor of speech communication at Penn State University, has also researched and written about the use of ASL with infants and preschoolers. For more information, please click on the following links:
- Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy
- The effects of sign language on hearing children’s language development.
Click here for a comprehensive research summary by Dr. Claire Vallotton:
Signing with Babies and Children: A Summary of Research Findings for Parents and Professionals
Dr. Kimberlee Whaley started a longitudinal study in November 1999 to research the use of ASL signs with preverbal babies in a preschool environment. Read more about it here.
Another useful book on research that found evidence that sign language supports early literacy skills is J. Hafer’s:
Signing For Reading Success.
Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn researched the effects of teaching hearing babies to sign.
Read about their findings here.