Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn, founders of the baby sign language movement, have conducted over two decades of scientific research on the use of baby sign language with hearing babies, including a longitudinal study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
More than 140 families joined the study beginning when their babies were 11 months old. Each family was randomly assigned to a signing or a non-signing group. The groups were equivalent at the beginning of the study in terms of the following characteristics: sex and birth order of the children, their tendency to vocalise or verbalise words, and the parents education and income levels.
The children were assessed using standardised language measures at 11, 15, 19, 24, 30, and 36 months old. In addition, as many children as could be relocated at age 8 were assessed using the WISC-III IQ test, the most commonly used measure of childrens intelligence.
Advanced language development
Results of the study revealed that 24-month-old signing babies were on average talking more like 27- or 28-month-olds, representing more than a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies who signed were also putting together significantly longer sentences. In addition, 36-month-old signers on average were talking like 47-month-olds, putting them almost a full year ahead of their average age mates. At 8 years, those who had signed as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ than their non-signing peers.
In addition to helping babies learn to talk and jumpstarting their intellectual development, a number of very important social-emotional benefits were also revealed. Drs Acredolo and Goodwyn found that signing with hearing babies:
– reduces frustration, biting and other aggressive behaviours.
– helps parents and teachers be more observant and responsive.
– builds trust between babies and their parents and caregivers.
– allows babies to share their worlds revealing just how smart babies really are.
– promotes positive emotional development.
– boosts babies self-confidence and builds self-esteem.
Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn, parenting experts and founders of the Baby Signs program, have continued to research the impact of baby sign language on hearing babies at the specially formed Baby Signs Institute.
This has allowed them to develop and adapt the Baby Signs program and products to best suit the needs of babies, families and caretakers, making it fun, simple and easy to learn.
Their findings continue to be published, featured and sited worldwide.