Sign language instruction for babies does not speed, enhance language development, research shows

October 5, 2012 by Julie Cooper, University of Hertfordshire
Sign language instruction for babies does not speed, enhance language development, research shows

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire have found no evidence to support claims that using baby signing with babies helps to accelerate their language development. In a paper to be published in Child Development, researchers conducted a controlled study to evaluate the benefits of symbolic gesture or baby sign.

Baby Signing

Baby sign is used by many parents to communicate with their babies before he or she is able to talk. It is claimed that baby signing helps babies learn to talk, increases their vocabulary as well as improving the bonding between mother and baby.

The Study

The team of researchers led by Dr Liz Kirk, from the University of Hertfordshire's Department of Psychology, recruited forty mother-baby pairs to the study when the babies were eight months old. Every mother-baby pair was randomly allocated to either a gesture or no gesture condition, and each baby's development was systematically tracked over a twelve-month period.

Dr Liz Kirk said: "Although babies learnt the gestures and used them to communicate long before they started talking, they did not learn the associated words any quicker than the non-gesturing babies, nor did they did they show enhanced ."

Mothers More Responsive

However, of significant interest, the study's findings did reveal that mothers who gestured with their babies were more responsive to their babies' non-verbal clues and encouraged them to think of their baby as an individual with a mind. This has great potential in clinical situations where early from or young children may provide timely interventions where there is risk of or impairment.

The full , "To Sign or Not to Sign? The Impact of Encouraging Infants to gesture on Infant Language and Maternal Mind-Mindedness ", is published online in Early View ( an online version published before inclusion in an issue) at Child Development.

Explore further: Baby lab reveals surprisingly early gift of gab

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … 012.01874.x/abstract

Related Stories

Baby lab reveals surprisingly early gift of gab

December 9, 2011
From the moment they're born, babies are highly attuned to communicate and motivated to interact. And they're great listeners.

Study of new moms to explore differences in infant development

May 5, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study to be conducted by the Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales called PRAMS - perinatal regulation and mood study, researchers will attempt to answer some of the fundamental ...

Scans could aid delivery decisions

April 16, 2012
Scientists are using MRI scans to see if they can determine when best to deliver babies that are not growing as fast as they should in the womb.

Recommended for you

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

February 23, 2018
Children as young as seven apply basic laws of physics to problem-solving, rather than learning from what has previously been rewarded, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

Study: Tinder loving cheaters—dating app facilitates infidelity

February 23, 2018
The popular dating app Tinder is all about helping people form new relationships. But for many college-aged people, it's also helping those in relationships cheat on their romantic partners.

Looking for the origins of schizophrenia

February 23, 2018
Schizophrenia may be related to neurodevelopmental changes, including brain's inability to generate an appropriate vascular system, according to new study resulted from a partnership between the D"Or Institute for Research ...

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tausch
not rated yet Oct 05, 2012
What did you do to enhance your language development as a baby?
Did you forget? Will your research help you remember again?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.