Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk - Linda Acredolo & Susan Goodwyn

As part of my effort to completely overdose on books about raising smart babies, I've added Baby Signs to my repertoire. Basically it's a simplified sign language (partially, but not entirely, based on American Sign Language) which allows your baby to communicate things like "hungry," "more," "diaper" before they're able to vocalize. As with the book How to Teach Your Baby to Read, the authors explain that babies have an understanding of language and communication sooner than their verbal abilities develop, and teaching them signs is a good way to reduce some amount of frustration. With signs, they're able to explain what they want, since they know but just can't say it. It's a pretty simple process—basically it's as easy as teaching your baby to wave bye-bye, which most parents do without really thinking about it. They also address concerns, such as the fear that a baby who learns signs will then be slower to speak. However, studies show that babies who learn signs actually learn to speak earlier, and show interest in books sooner as well.

The book itself is very straightforward, with plenty of stories from parents who used Baby Signs and pictures of cute kids making signs for things. The Signs Dictionary in the back of the book isn't that great—I think it would have been more effective with photos instead of the drawings in which it's often unclear which way a hand is facing or what exactly the child is doing. Overall, I don't know that I learned a whole lot more from reading the book than from the one-hour signing session we attended at the library recently.

What I'd really like to see is a comparison of using baby signs versus teaching your baby to read. And then there's Raising Bilingual Children, which also makes the claim that children raised according to their book will have better language skills and higher IQs. With all the different things to teach my child, I feel like she won't really have time to learn to crawl and walk until she's three.

Fed to jonathan's brain | March 25, 2004