Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Besides age (the younger the baby, the longer before the first sign), your baby’s unique temperament and personality will make a big difference in how quickly she learns to sign. This is an important point because parents are often so concerned about the speed of their own child’s development relative to other children that they miss the magic of the unfolding of their child’s unique time line of accomplishment.
One way babies’ temperaments and personalities affect development is their role in inspiring babies to set priorities for development. For some babies, communication is a top concern, and anything, including signs, that enables them to connect with other people is placed high on their to-do list. For other babies, motor milestones are more intriguing and take center stage. We can’t tell you how many parents have told us that their baby seemed uninterested—or temporarily lost interest—in signing until he or she conquered the challenge of learning to walk or climb.
This certainly was the case with my son, Kai (who is pictured in the photos above, first as a signing baby and now as a handsome 24-year-old!). Despite lots and lots of modeling of signs, Kai didn’t begin signing until his first birthday—two weeks after he was finally able to toddle around on his own. After that, it was off to the races in both domains!
So, just be patient and keep modeling signs. In doing so, you will be providing your baby interesting food for thought no matter how long it takes him to produce signs himself.
Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis