Frequently Asked Questions
What is baby signing?
Baby signing is communicating with your child using physical gestures before their verbal communication has developed. Babies are able to use these non verbal signs to give us an insight into their world and communicate their thoughts and needs with us.
What are the benefits of signing with your baby?
Baby Signing provides a way to communicate before your baby is able to use words. In so doing it has been shown to reduce frustration and tantrums and has a knock-on positive effect on your baby's self confidence and self esteem. Signing stimulates your baby's linguistic and intellectual development and provides both parents and babies with a really rewarding first experience of communication.
Signing also builds comprehension, helping babies to understand the world around them which can help keep your baby reassured, calm and engaged. Many grizzles, tears and tantrums are simply because they are trying to tell us something. Signing gives a much clearer, calmer way for us to understand each other at this pre-verabl age.
They say actions speak louder than words so take a moment to watch one of our videos of children who have learned to sign with us. Imagine if that was your child - how amazing would that be!
Signing is easier than speech. It requires coordinating 5+ mouth shapes to utter just one word....but far simpler brain and body processes to gesture because at this stage of development babies have better visual and physical verbal skills.
Will signing delay speech?
NO, in fact research suggests the opposite. A baby's natural desire is to communicate with you. Signing does NOT replace speech; each time you sign with your baby you reinforce the sign by using the word. Your baby copies you and in so doing develops speech. One study concluded that using baby signs improves language and cognitive ability which did not end when babies started to talk. In fact using baby signs has far reaching positive implications long after the child has stopped using the signs. It has been shown that children who signed as babies have 50 more spoken words in their vocabularies by the age of 2 than children who didn’t sign.
At Little Bear we also incorporate proven speech and language techniques to encourage and nurture speech at every step of the way. We want your baby to have both speech and signing as strategies for communicating to help them to make themselves understood from an early age.
What is the best age to start signing?
There is no 'perfect' age to start. Many families start at just a few months old (some even from a few weeks). This will make signing a natural part of your everyday communication and get you comfortable and competent in using the everyday signs. (Also helpful if mums are going back to work and only able to come for a term). Babies need to have developed a memory and dexterity which means that babies are usually around the 6+ months age when they make their first attempts although of course it does vary from child to child. Babies will show an understanding of a sign before they can produce the sign themselves and we often see this stage occuring before they are six months. When they first start signing you will be able to introduce more signs and as they get older the rate at which they learn accelerates. Even toddlers who have started to talk can still benefit from signing as it will help to build their vocabulary further.
Is my toddler too old to start to learn?
No, signing is really beneficial in any pre-verbal child as it helps to build their vocabulary further and helps to identify unclear spoken words. Toddlers can get very frustrated with ensuing negative behaviours but signing will relieve frustration from communication difficulties. Toddlers pick up signing very quickly too!
How long will it take before my child signs?
How long is a piece of string? This is as hard to answer as 'when will my child sit / crawl / walk / sleep through the night!' Every child is different, some will be quicker than others. Once you notice gross motor skills developing and attempts to wave or clap this shows your baby is processing what they see / hear, making the connections necessary and controlling their hands to make the formation - that's quite some feat! From experience it usually will take a good couple of months or so (longer if a very young baby). Baby signing is not a quick fix. It requires your commitment to be consistent and model key signs each day. Your reward, even early on in your journey is seeing that your baby understands (you'll get a reaction) - this in itself could be the difference between a contented / reassured baby and one who is crying. There are milestones to enjoy along the way so we encourage you to enjoy the journey rather than get fixated on a destination! The journey is amazing!
What are Little Bear classes like?
Fun, relaxed, welcoming. Expert tuition is cleverly wrapped up within fun activities for parents and babies to enjoy - singing, music, sensory play, exploration. There is lots to keep little ones engaged.
We are proud winners of multiple awards over the years - Best Local Activity, The Most Outstanding Activity Leader in the whole of the UK as well as Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 for our services to baby signing. These awards are nominated and voted for by parents so this means a great deal to us.
To help you get an idea about our classes click on the buttons below to see photos and hear what other parents have said. Don't forget that we offer a FREE taster session for all families who genuinely are interested in learning to sign with us.