My kids are great talkers. Sometimes too great. They've both always been very vocal and they picked up words and language very early. I never did sign language with either one. I know sign language with babies is in vogue and I know several families that had great success with it. I had 2 reasons for not teaching my babies sign language.
1. I knew a family with children with severe speech delays. They were told that their use of sign language had outweighed their use of vocal language so their children had not learned speech patterns at the developmentally important stage.
2. I wanted my children to talk. I didn't want them to sign. I wanted them to talk to me. I didn't want to spend time teaching them to sign when I felt like I could just teach them to talk instead.
How did that work for us? Great. With a girl and a boy. The only difference we saw between the two was who they were willing to talk to. Apple would speak to anyone and everyone. She was talking to people at the store, at the post office, everywhere. Speedy would only talk to us. Well....mostly me. He didn't really open up to talk to people outside of the family until he was 2.
Even with that our children were both speaking very early. At every pediatrician's appointment they were well above average on speech development. I never thought much about it. I was happy they could tell me what they wanted. As time has gone on I've seen that this was unique. It seems like once a month or so we talk with a family whose child isn't speaking, isn't learning words, and/ or isn't communicating. It's across the board- boys, girls, 18 months, 2 years old, 3 years old, even 4 years old.
Now before I delve into my opinion I want to state that I'm not a medical professional, I'm not a child development expert and we all know that children shouldn't be compared. ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT. Every child develops at a different pace. Even with my own two children their personalities showed very early- one was outspoken and social and one was an introvert and quiet. On to my opinion........
We've been asked for advice time and again by families whose children aren't talkers. Our advice has never changed and it's very simple. Are you ready? Talk to your children. Talk to your babies. I know they can't talk back. When they are newborns you aren't going to get a reaction at all. Don't be deterred. Talk to them. About anything. I don't ever recommend "baby talk." You know the garbled high pitched "Coochy coochy coo." Don't do that. Instead use simple language and clear words.
Are you hungry? Did you sleep well? Look at your pretty purple dress. See the doggie. He says woof, woof. Let's count your fingers- 1,2,3,4,5! Hear the music? Let's have lunch. It's cold outside! Time to get in your car seat. We're getting groceries. Look at the pretty red apples.
See it isn't rocket science. I talked to my kids ALL the time. Pretty much every time they were awake I talked to them. Soon they could talk back. When they started pointing at objects, I started encouraging them to say the word.
You want a cup? Can you say cup? Cup. Up? You want mommy to pick you up? Say up!
That's my advice. If you are pregnant or have a small child start now! Read aloud to your babies and children. Use your voice to talk to them. They will want to imitate you. If your child is showing developmental delays in speech, talk to them. Start now. Your child will want to hear your voice.
Beware....someday they will be 5 and 7 and they will talk from sun up to sun down......maybe even longer! :)