28 answers

Is Teaching Baby Sign Language at 15 Months Appropriate?

Hi,

I have a 15 month old son who recently started doing the sign for "more," which we had been teaching him for several months on and off (no consisntently). I'm not sure if he totally knows to sign more when he wants more, he does do it when we say the word more though. He is trying to talk too, but hasn't said a word in context correctly yet. Since he picked up on the "more" sign, should I start teaching him more words? I'm really only interested in "all done" "please" and "thank you". I didn't know if I should try to teach these or if I should just work on encouraging talking since he's 15 months now.

Thanks!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

https://www.babysigns.com/index.cfm?id=64

This is a site that describes a number of research studies showing the benefit of using sign language in young children. Most children don't start speaking unitl 18months or 2 years old. the most important thing is to use both verbal language and sign language together.

My 2 year son was not speaking more than just mama and dada. We started a toddlers sign language class and he started communicating with signs right away and was speaking all the words to match the signs within a couple of months. As his verbal language grew, we stopped using the signs.

take care, S.

Kids are preprogrammed for language learning up until about age 8. You could teach him sign, as well as Russian, Chinese, French, etc. if you wanted to. The brain is a phenomenal thing. The more language he learns, the more synopses are formed in the brain--connections that make everything easier later. So yes, teach him sign and talk to him and play music for him. Input, input, input. Don't miss this opportunity.

I would work on words, not signing. Although children can do it, I have seen a couple of my girlfriends do signing with their children and both of them experienced a great delay and speech.

Good luck!

More Answers

you should go ahead and teach the signs with the real words. They say that when teaching signs you actually end up saying the words more often. As a result your son may start using the words sooner. It can't hurt to teach words in any form. I would recommend trying to teach other signs until he has developed the skills to say words. Other each ones are fan, bird, flower (sniff), milk, or eat. Check it out online and you can get true ASL signs or make up your own that work for your family. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Kids are preprogrammed for language learning up until about age 8. You could teach him sign, as well as Russian, Chinese, French, etc. if you wanted to. The brain is a phenomenal thing. The more language he learns, the more synopses are formed in the brain--connections that make everything easier later. So yes, teach him sign and talk to him and play music for him. Input, input, input. Don't miss this opportunity.

It's always appropriate to teach him something new. Sign language is just like any other language. I teach my kids more signing and they are 3 and 4. While signing as a baby is helpful, signing as they grow older is still impressive: they know 2 languages. Helps with brain development, vocabulary, expression... I have a deaf sister in law, but I would be teaching my kids to sign (and learning myself) because I think it's a cool thing to know.

Absolutely! We started sign language with both our kids around 9 months. The both picked up basic "words" quickly, we had to be consistant with them of course. We have 16 month old girl and she signs "more", "milk", "juice", "hungry", "tired/nap", "please" (when she wants something), she's working on "diaper" for when she has poopy pants. They know what they want or need, you're just giving them a tool to help communicate what it is. Eventually they will start using the word with the sign too. With our son (now 4), his first words were the ones he signed. Stick to the basics, be consistant, do a sign a week, they will pick it up!

Absolutely. I started teaching my twin girls signs early on (in addition to reading to them every day and narrating everything I do all day long) and they are 20 months old now with an incredible vocabulary of close to 400 words, speaking in sentences, singing full songs, and they know their ABCs and can count up to 20. I am sure signing had something to do with it. We don't use it in excess, but there is a wonderful and popular video series called Baby Signing Time and Signing Time which is absolutely fantastic if you let your child have screen time. We don't have tv, but we do allow some time to watch these videos and I learn with them and reinforce all the time in daily life. I think it has helped their language development, in addition to the reading and narrating I mentioned as well as providing choices so my kids learn the word of the thing they want (like sweet potatoes instead of corn). There are so many words that will be helpful if your little one can communicate them to you..I would say go for it!

Do both, he will speak when he is ready to speak, signing will not slow down the process but it does make communication alot less frustrating. 15 months is the beginning of the word explosion, soon he will be signing and talking so much he will be carrying on full conversations with you. Its a fun day when that happens.

I taught my son those same four signs at about the same age and it helped him ALOT with working on his manners! He is a very polite two year old now, everyone comments on how polite he is. And there is no visable harm in teaching your child some basic signs.

I would work on words, not signing. Although children can do it, I have seen a couple of my girlfriends do signing with their children and both of them experienced a great delay and speech.

Good luck!

Yes, of course. Why not? It's not as if signing will prevent him from talking.

There is no reason why you would not do both: encourage him to speak and teach him signs. You can teach your baby sign or any other language at any time and it is NOT at the expense of his "regular" language development.
My daughter is bilingual and in addition to English and my native language she has also learned a handful of signs and they do spanish at our pre-school.

Hi,

Yes, you can start your sign lanuage at 15 months. Stick with it and don' get frustrated. It may take a few months for your son to catch on and start signing himself. Start with just a few signs. Don't try to do to many at once. We did sign language with our son. I think we started around 17 months. It was a wonderful way for him to comunicate with us before he could talk.

I started using sign when my little girl was 13 months, and although she was speaking twice as many words than others her age (according to her doctor,) studies I'd read showed that using sign and the spoken word at the same time is exactly what the child needs. I look at it as spoken and "written." My little girl loved signing and learned it in some cases long before the actual word. Her language skills flourished and still do and I believe part of it was because she learned sign early in life.

I've also taught sign with other young toddlers and it really helped them communicate. Whether or not children learn the spoken word when we think they should is not as important as being able to communicate feelings or desires.

Helping your child learn even a few key words is great because the benefit of having fewer tantrums is a plus in and of itself! I found this is very true when a child can communicate. They are very physical at these early ages and a good bit of their learning takes place by physically manipulating something (i.e. fingers/hands in this case.)

Read as much as you can about the subject, talk "up a storm" with your baby and happy signing!

https://www.babysigns.com/index.cfm?id=64

This is a site that describes a number of research studies showing the benefit of using sign language in young children. Most children don't start speaking unitl 18months or 2 years old. the most important thing is to use both verbal language and sign language together.

My 2 year son was not speaking more than just mama and dada. We started a toddlers sign language class and he started communicating with signs right away and was speaking all the words to match the signs within a couple of months. As his verbal language grew, we stopped using the signs.

take care, S.

absolutely work on sign..you can get books, videos, take classes through your rec center. Being able to express needs and to be understood is reinforcing and will HELP develop language. Plus, my son signed I love you at 8 months--there is no greater reward!

If you are going to teach him consistently, then yes, it is appropriate. I have a friend who has a child about 14 months old and he is taking sign language classes with his dad. Good luck.

I agree with others. Why not teach both.

My son spoke early, and kind of dropped the signs himself (even though we kept signing). I wish we would have stuck with it more though.

I have friends who can still sign with their children from across the room. It's neat to see them ask for a glass of milk by sign rather than screaming it across a crowded room.

We had a similiar situation with our daughter. Our approach was if doing the signs helped to lower her communication frustration then we were all for it. Best of luck!
M. P in Colorado

Yes, do go ahead and teach him signs for words. More communication is better than less. I used to sell Discovery Toys and they had a neat set of cardboard baby books that help you teach some basic signs like eat, quiet, more, milk, bath, hat, ect. It has pictures of kids signing and an image that goes with the word. It also came with a laminated quick reference sheet of the signs and a DVD with kids signing while a narrator says the word. I'm sure they helped our daughter learn them faster and she enjoyed watching the DVD and "reading" the books with me. If you are interested and don't know of anyone selling Discovery Toys, you can probably find them by searching on the internet. They have lots of educational toys. This is one that I really used a lot.

Definitely worth teaching it! My kids were late speakers, so the sign language was really helpful for the twos. If nothing else, he'll learn to show you what he means instead of tantruming. GL!

It is never inappropriate to teach your child something that is as important as comunacation. as long as you are teach verbal skills while you teach sign then you will be alright. My daughter is in an intregrated preschool and I wish she knew more sign laungage. just think when your son is older he will be more flueant(sp) in another laungage which makes him more valuable in the work force.

Yes, Teach him. I taught my son over 100 sign language words. It helps so much to know when they are hungry, thirsty or want a cookie or need to go potty. My son is now 7 years old. It works.
I started with: eat, drink/thirsty, sleep, bathtime, bedtime, potty/toilet, cookie, cereal, hurt, more, stop, play, walk, sit, yes, no, change, hot, cold, down, please, thank you, your welcome, help, all gone, mom, dad, baby, tired, and a lot of the animals (when reading books- duck, pig, cat, cow, horse).

The first sign my son used was dog - we were at a store and their was a dog and he pointed to it and sign the word. Then the next sign he used was eat. When he signed this, we knew he was hungry and wanted to eat. From that point on we knew he would sign more so we started signing more. I read Sign to your Baby by Joseph Garcia.

I've taught two kids baby signs, and 15 months isn't too late. I would teach him more than the words you're planning on. It's easier to learn nouns, and then he'll get the idea faster. My sons' first signs were tree and flower.

And signs aid in a child learning to speak. Often, they can learn a new word and how to use it in context before they can pronounce it. For example, my second son learned all his colors except for orange. I didn't understand why he just couldn't catch on to that color! He just looked at us blankly when we asked him what color something was. Then I turned the question around and asked him to point to the orange cirlce, and he could. He just couldn't say "orange." We didn't have a sign for colors, so that didn't help us in that situation.

When my kids were a bit older, ~18 moths, they'd learn a sign, then start saying the word within a week. They'd usually sign it and say it at the same time for another week, then would abandon the sign. So definitely sign to help your son speak!

Definitely go ahead with teaching more signs if he seems responsive and willing. My son is almost 26 months and only says a handful of words, so we are getting him early intervention help. One of the first things the speech therapists suggested was signing. That at least allows him to communicate with us, and we have less tantrums from him because he can now let us know what he wants. The majority of kids who learn signs don't develop a speech delay, so don't worry about that. Just make sure you say the word when you sign it, and say it when he signs it, and he'll associate them together. Good luck!

I taught all three of my boys sign language as well as the words. I think it was easier teaching the sign language first. As long as you are using the words while you're teaching your son will get both. Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for at that age. The biggest thing is consistancy.

Sure! We taught our son basic food/eating signs starting around 12-13 months. It helped a lot! Mealtimes were a great source of frustration for him as he had definite wants but couldn't articulate verbally. He would cry and we didn't know why. The signing helped so much!

He is now 25 months and speaks really well (regular 4-5 word sentences). He almost never uses sign anymore except when he says "thank you." I think the signs help buffer that time when verbal skills are low.

I agree with the previous posters, we did both and so did my sister. Our kids spoke very early. but did signs around one year for milk, more, eat, all done. It was nice to know when they were hungry, thirsty and all done before they could even talk. :)

People talk about delays due to sign language, but I have a hard time believing that it is the signing that is doing it. My son learned a few words at daycare, but when we switched him at 16 months to a new daycare, his signing took off! But not just his signing, his words too. He would do sign, or sign and word, or sometimes just word. As they are learning to speak, it is sometimes really hard to understand what they are trying to say, so the signs help make it clearer for you so that you can encourage the words, rather than frustrating both of you for not knowing what he wants. Some examples - snow. My husband kept thinking he was saying no, until I watched when he said it and he was making the sign for snow - he wanted to play in the snow. Another is dog. He was saying dogdog, which sounded a lot like Dada, when I asked him which, he would do the sign for dog. Giving them more tools to communicate is always a good idea, just reinforce with the word too, and you shouldn't have any difficulties.

hi~
I agree that it is a wonderful idea to teach sign language along with teaching langage. there is a lot of reseach that shows using both spoken English and sign language with an infant can greatly increase the rate and efficiency of language development. Signing is a great way to know what your child needs/wants before they are actually able to verbalize it. this in turn can help decrease frustration.

here are some resources:
http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/
http://signingbaby.com/main/?cat=14

good luck! :)

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