A blog by Dr Lin Day

What are the benefits of signing?

When parents first hear about signing, they may wonder if this means forcing or rushing their baby to grow up before they are ready. This may be why many parents wait until their toddler begins to speak before focusing on two-way communication. They may also think that learning to sign is hard work-it isn’t. Parents do not need to be accomplished signers to communicate with their baby. Baby sign language is about using natural gestures alongside normal speech from the shake of the head for ‘No’ and the wave of the hand for ‘Goodbye’ to conventional signals that are easily understood. There is no need to put time aside for signing if it is naturally incorporated into normal day-to-day routines. 


Babies develop hand-eye coordination long before they can talk. This is because the motor areas of the brain develop faster than the speech centres. Signing strengthens the motor pathways, which ultimately increases brain power. Signing also enhances visual development and social skills. Best of all, it encourages communication and fun interactions between the parent and the baby, which increases the bond between them.


Who is signing for and why is it so important?

Parents who sign to their babies have a distinct advantage in responding fully to their baby’s needs. This strengthens the parent's confidence, pleasure, and responsiveness.  Signing empowers babies to communicate what they can’t say to get their basic needs met. This reduces stress and frustration and makes for a happier, calmer baby-and parent. Signing facilitates a foundation of trust and understanding between the parent and the baby and enhances the special and intimate relationship between them. All these things make signing a very worthwhile activity.


How can the app make life easier for people? 

The app provides quick and easy accessibility for users wanting to introduce baby signs to their little one. The app allows instant access when at home or when out and about, so the learning can continue where ever the location. The Baby Sensory sign system was developed after years of research in early years settings. It was found that babies did not have the manual dexterity to perform signs developed for deaf children. As a result, the Baby Sensory sign system was based on natural hand movements that could be performed by hearing babies alongside normal speech.


How do I sign? 

Signs must come across clearly if babies are to understand their message. They must be crisp and sharp and difficult to confuse with other signals. They must be performed with strength and amplitude each time they are brought into action. Signs must be accompanied by eye contact, facial expressions and clear speech and lip movements to reinforce the baby’s understanding of how language works. They must never be used in silence.


How does it tie into BS classes? 

The Baby Sensory Signbook app demonstrates over 150 signs and will help to reinforce the signs introduced during the Baby Sensory classes to aid essential repetitious learning. We know babies love expressive speech and movement and enjoy imitating actions exposed to them, so not only will they be able to enjoy this fun interaction within the class, but it can be enhanced by parent use (of the app) in between the weekly classes.


Each baby will sign differently depending on motor development and manual dexterity. Some babies will sign a few days after seeing the sign, while others start weeks or months later. If signs are used regularly from birth, babies can communicate their needs and wants long before the development of speech. This reduces stress and frustration and makes for a happier, calmer baby.


The drive to communicate is very powerful and babies develop many different ways of expressing themselves before they utter their first words. Body language is one way in which babies communicate before the development of speech. Some studies have shown that teaching babies to sign enhances communication and enables them to develop a better grasp of language in general.  Parents feel overwhelmed with joy when babies sign that they are wet, thirsty, hungry, tired or in pain.

The Baby Sensory Signbook App

In the past few months, Baby Sensory has been working with the company Kwebl, who are from the Netherlands, to create a new Baby Signing app for mobile. With the Baby Sensory Signbook App, you can learn to communicate with your baby before talking starts with these simple baby signs.

The app features:

•    Official Baby Sensory signs right in your pocket!
•    Our very own class leaders to teach you the signs
•    Easy to use app 
•    View videos at your own speed with the ability to slow down or speed up videos
•    Compatible with our ‘The ABC of Baby Signing’ book!

You, family and friends are now able to download the Baby Sensory Signbook App! Available on both Android and iOS in the links below. Happy signing!