Although sign language is a wonderful form of communication, your baby will still someday need to learn to talk. Sign language can actually improve her language acquisition skills if you simply incorporate the spoken word with the signing one. Each time you form a sign, label it with the corresponding spoken word. Likewise, if your baby forms a sign, reiterate the spoken word as you address her request.
In addition to simply labeling the word, it is also beneficial to a baby’s vocabulary and understanding of the English language to use the word in context. For example, if you are demonstrating the sign for BLANKET, you might say something like this:
“Blanket. Let’s cover you up with your blanket.”
Or if your baby makes the sign, you might say this:
“Blanket? Would you like to have your blanket?”
Always remember to give your child a chance to respond. Although she might not do more than coo or grunt, she is getting a feel for the rhythm of speech.
By repeating these words over and over as well as using them in context, you are actually giving your baby an advantage over many nonsigning children who are less likely to hear a word repeated as frequently. Before you know it, your child will first be signing and then speaking.