Baby Has Begun Speaking
If your baby is beginning to talk, you may be wondering if you should continue to sign with her. The primary purpose of baby sign language, after all, is to give babies a way to communicate before they are able to speak. You may have also found that your baby is less likely to work at signing now that she is speaking. In spite of these things, there are still compelling reasons to continue signing.Signing Beyond the Basics
If your child is beginning to use simple words to get her needs met, she will have less motivation to learn new signs. In fact, many parents opt to stop signing as their children start speaking. Remember, though, that even a toddler who is learning to talk still has trouble communicating some thoughts and desires. Using sign language, even as she acquires verbal skills, will help to bridge that communication gap until she is more proficient in her speech and better able to express herself. Likewise, if your baby is starting to talk before you have begun sign language instruction, you can use signs to help your baby express words that she cannot yet say.
Not only will she hesitate to learn new signs, you may also find that your baby begins to drop some well-established signs as she replaces them with the spoken word. If you want to maintain her signing vocabulary, continue to model the signs even when she doesn’t. Otherwise, she will start to forget them.
Even after your baby begins to talk, remember to speak each word as you or your baby signs it. This will help to improve her growing spoken vocabulary and will also help her to make a connection between a verbal word and a sign. You may find that in time, your baby begins to speak and sign some words simultaneously. This is the best indication of total comprehension.A Foundation for the Future
As you have read, many parents introduce sign language to give their children a foundation for a second language. If this benefit of baby sign language is important to you, you certainly will not want to quit signing with your baby as soon as she begins to talk.
Instead, you may want to take this opportunity to start introducing more advanced signs to your toddler. These signs could include those that are more difficult to form or that represent intangible concepts. This will enable her to communicate beyond her basic needs and give her a larger vocabulary of signs.
As she gets older and is ready to learn fluent American Sign Language, her large and well-established vocabulary of signs will give her a head start on the language. This will make fluent signing easier for her to achieve and more enjoyable for her to learn.