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"Your Baby Can Read." and "Baby Sign Language." Good or Bad?

11 answers
I'm a first time mother. I'm 29 and my daughter is 17 month's old. When I was pregnant with her, I heard all about "Your baby can read" on TV and I thought it sounded really interesting and I was thinking about buying it for my daughter. However, I started researching it a little bit and I read that it can actually damage a child's reading skills beacuse they aren't actually reading the words, they are just memorizing them. Does anyone know if that's true or not? A lot of things people research and read sometimes are underlined with alterior motives. I think I can get the truth from real parents. Another question: My sister-in-law is a first time mother as well and she's teaching her son "baby sign language." I'm not really so concerned about that because although my daughter still talks some gibberish, she can speak enough that I can usually understand her needs and wants. But I did hear that babies who "unnessecarily" use sign language can damage their talking skills. Reason being, because they can communicate with their hands they don't feel the need or the want to talk. Is that true? Her baby is not handicapped, she said she's teaching him sign language to understand him earlier. I love my daughter and my nephew very much. I would like to educate them both early, however I don't want to use any kind of new methods that can damage their skills for the future. Does anyone have any experience with these methods? Have I been misinformed? I welcome all input.

answers (11)

I did baby sign with my son, starting when he was about six months old.  I have to tell you, I've never seen or heard any report that sign language can damage language skills - in fact, I've seen the opposite, that it increases language skills, and that kids who used sign as babies have a great vocabulary than kids who didn't.  I'd  be curious to know where you got that report that baby sign is harmful. Baby sign is hardly "new" - it's been around for about 20 years or so, so if there were harmful effects, we'd know about it by now.  (Sign language itself has been around for much, much longer.) In short, your sister-in-law isn't setting up her son for failure.  I had a lot of fun with it, and I wish I'd kept it up (I sort of lost interest after a few months - it does take a while for kids to respond, and I just wasn't seeing much response from my son). 
when i was pregnant with my daughter, i too saw the comercials for my baby can read, and my husband and i thought we would get it. never did. i started doing simple flash cards with my daughter at 6 months, and after 3 days of watching me write, "mama" on a dry erase board, and sounding it out for her, she said it. she spoke in sentences at 13 months. her ped suggested baby sign language. me personnaly, i wasn't into all that. i don't want my daughter, now 21 months, to throw up hand gestures and signs to talk to me. i wanted her to open up her mouth, and talk, because i knew she could do it. i homeschool her because the pre-schools here only want to teach numbers and letters for a 2 year old class. i teach numbers, letters, shapes, colors, animals, weather, seasons, sight words, art, etc.  i created a simple lesson plan with weekly themes such as bugs, farm animals, etc. her ped has told me that she is the most brilliant child he has seen in over 15 years of practice. last week, she sat on the floor and arranged her alphabet flashcards from a to z on the living room floor all by herself, and went on to writing several letters with chalk. the easiest, and quickest way to increase her vocabulary is simple. read to her. we read atleast 10 books a day. my child would love nothing more than to sit in my lap and read books all day. needless to say, i'm a very proud mama!
You know there will always be someone trying to sell moms something to make their kids smarter. My mom just talked to me when I was a baby. She narrated everything just like she was explaining something to an adult. She also read to me a a lot. I can't say that I am a genius by any means but I started talking early and reading and writing early, too. I was always ahead in reading in school. I wish my mom would have worked on math with me at a very young age because I was never any good at math. But really my point is that you don't have to buy expensive programs to make your child smart. You are the best teaching tool they could ever have!
Thank you all for your input. I was very curious about other possible outcomes from different methods. I going to continue educating my daughter myself the best I can. Kimieapples, you brought up a good point about math. I was horrible at it and struggled big time with it. Hopefully my daughter will take after my husband in that area, but just incase I'm going to make sure I work on that with her as well. Thank you!
I personally believe that baby sign language slows speech ability.  Learning to talk is motivated by a need to communicate your wants...and sometimes it is frustrating!  The baby reading also sounds like a trendy product--but might be worth a try.  A lot of parents these days are excited to push their kids along when they are not developmently ready and this can produce anxiety at times for the child.  When I was young we learned to read in grade one and I continue to love books!  If it promotes reading and spending time with your little one-guess why not?? 
With my first child I did sign language and I spoke to her alot. I carried her every where I went and narrated to her. She picked up on the signs very quickly and even though she started talking at an early age, she also used the signs too and she enjoyed it. Now, at six, she is very "talky" and expressive and a good communicator. She asks alot of questions and is extremely curious. Her memory is also very, very good. With my second daughter (now two), we did Your Baby Can Read, beginning at six months. She was not the same as her older sister. From birth, she was very colicky, and she didn't like to be cuddled or even talked to a lot. She just wanted to be held in peace and quiet (unless she was the one crying). She was and still is a very sensitive little girl. We found that one of the best things for her to clam her down was YBCR. It captivated her attention. So we let her watch it as much as she wanted. I didn't follow the instructions for the DVD's, I just mixed them up every once in awhile to keep her attention. We had no idea that the program was working other than keeping her calm and happy. Then one day at around 1.5yrs, an explosion of words came out, she could read! Before then, she almost never spoke words. Fast forward to today...she LOVES to read. She sleeps with books, goes to the potty with books...In the car, in the store, everywhere. They are her comfort and help when she's not feeling well or a distraction when she's cranky. I'm not talking about picture books either. My 2yo can read at a almost 2nd grade level (she not as fluid in her flow of words). She's a deep thinker and she asks deep questions and regularly takes me by suprise at the level of thought that goes into her statements. Just yesterday she was explaining the role of antibodies during a vaccination . She also has a very, very good memory.If I could do it all over with both, I would incorporate all of the methods especially YBCR and now that I have my son, temperment allowing, I will.
My nephew was taught sign language at Early Intervention he was a little bit of a slow talker but it helped tremendously since we have now discovered he is Autistic...
I don't know about my baby can read because I have never used it but I know that baby signs work great. My daughter is 29 months and needs speech. She communicates at what a 17-18 month old should be doing and the signs help us to know what she wants and she is learning new words from the signs. We can get her to talk more since we have been doing signs with her. I am so glad we decided to teach her these signs to help and the speech teacher said she thinks it is a wonderful thing as well.
I started using sign language with my duahgter when she was 6mo old. She learned "milk" and "more" right away. those two words were very important to her since she didnt have to cry to get her point across. later she learned "all done" and a few other random signs. she started using verbal words at around 15 months but continued to use sign language and learn new signs. Now she is just over 2 years and knows 30 signs and has a very strong verbal vocabulary. I still show her signs but i make sure to teach her the verbal word as well. she just recently learned "bubbles" and that was just for fun :) she has fun with sign. I feel that it has actually increased her ability to learn new things.  I will be teaching my son as well in a few months. He is only 5mo old right now. I am interested to see if boys pick up sign quicker or slower than girls... interested about the verbal part as well.I am fluent in sign language (or just about) so it is something I will continue to teach my children over the years. Sign Language may not be for every one... but i do not feel that it has slowed my childs learning ability one bit. just the opposite really. as for "My Baby can Read" I have my doubts about that one... I started using PreSchool Prep a few  weeks ago with my daughter and she can already count to 15 on her own and knows her ABCs she can recognize her letters on sight (i mix the flash cards up, so its no that she has memorized them) Pre School Prep teaches: Colors, Numbers, Letters and Shapes. they have sight words too.. but thats just memorization, and I dont want to introduce that just yet.
I'm the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book.  I'm trained as a Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) and have worked with children with special needs who had communicative disorders since 1994. I also teach within a CDA college program.Each year I have my students research the question "Will signing delay speech?" using peer reviewed journal articles. We have never found any study that shows signing with young hearing children will delay speech. We have found a large number of studies that back that it enhances language, vocabulary and literacy development.Signing with young children gives them information in an additional way so they can see, hear and even feel language.  Remember speech is different than language. To keep it simple, signing happens at your hands; speech at your mouth and language in your head.  The motor movement needed for signs develop before the motor movement needed for speech. A child uses his hands to learn language and when speech catches up, they already know the words!Sara Bingham (


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