Signing Babies = Smarter Babies?

FRESNO, Calif.

Barely 1-year-old fraternal twins Chase and Russell Anderson are a couple kids on-the-go. For Christy, their mom, communication is key. When the twins were just months old, Christy started using sign language with them. She was skeptical, but at 10 months, the kids were signing back.

"I believe this is just another way to communicate with your children," Christy told Ivanhoe.

A government study found 24-month-old babies using sign language were talking like 27-month-olds. And 36-month-old signers were talking like 47-month-olds, which is nearly a full year's difference. At 8-years-old, signing babies scored an average of 12 points higher on IQ tests than non-signers.

"Children have the ability to express themselves and begin communication around 6 months of age," Robert C. Fifer, Ph.D., director of audiology and speech pathology at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Fifer says this won't turn junior into a genius, but it sure can help. Studies show signing boosts self-confidence, builds self-esteem and reduces aggressive behavior.

"That's good for language foundation. It's good for brain development, and it's good for cognitive development later on," Dr. Fifer told Ivanhoe.

This baby sign language curriculum uses up to 15 signs from standard American Sign Language, with some tweaks made for the little ones.

Not all babies adapt to the signs at the same rate, and experts say the more parent interaction, the better. To start, parents simply have to speak the words along with their hand movements. This makes it easier to move from signs to words when babies start talking.

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Omar Montejo/ Media Relations
University of Miami School of Medicine

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