Which Method Is Best?
If you are new to the concept of baby sign language, you might not even realize that there are different methods available to you. In fact, you probably assumed that sign language for babies is no different than sign language for adults. Fortunately for you and signing parents everywhere, this is not the case. Adults who are fluent in sign have mastered a complete second language. Even if you choose to use ASL, your baby will only be using basic signs. After all, a baby who has yet to master her native language will certainly find it difficult to acquire a second language.
If you opt to use what are known as home signs or baby gestures, then you will actually be using made-up signs that may be unlike ASL. If those options aren’t enough, there are combinations of the two and other variations that some parents opt to use. As with ASL, these other methods only require that your baby learn basic words and perhaps simple phrases.
To get a good look at these methods in practice, visit a baby sign language class or playgroup, many of which will welcome you as an investigator of baby sign. Witnessing signing babies and their parents in action will give you an idea of what to expect from each technique.
The decision of which method is best seems to be a matter of perspective. It is important to remember that no matter which method you use, your baby can and will learn to communicate using signs as long as you are consistent in your practice. As you continue to read about these methods, you will see that they each have pros and cons.
Although each technique has its benefits, this book focuses primarily on the use of American Sign Language (ASL) due to its uniformity and common usage among signing babies. All of the signs included in the back of the book and on the DVD are standard ASL signs. You will find, however, that the tips and information throughout this book will be helpful to you no matter which method you choose.