I found some research awhile ago that encouraged teaching and using sign language until age 3. That may sound excessive, especially if your baby has started talking. But I was reminded recently why this is important.
When a baby has learned to sign, that is their introduction to words and word meaning. Your baby has learned that producing a sign not only causes a reaction, but helps them learn more about the world. When your baby starts to talk, the muscles that produce speech are still developing, that is why words don’t come out right and we have a good chuckle over it. (Which by the way, may cause your baby to hesitate to speak new and more difficult words) Listening to Leah’s mother tell me the story about her animal book made be consider how we learn. Leah was ready to learn a new animal word. Her mother didn’t know how to do the sign for it, but spoke the word, which was too hard for Leah to say. At the time your baby is ready to learn, we need to be ready to teach. If I come across something I am trying to do and can’t figure it out, it’s very frustrating and I might not finish the task. I can only guess the same for Leah when trying to learn this new word. I will let Leah’s mom tell you the rest of the story on http://talkingwithbaby.com/pages/January2012#.
If your baby has started speaking, it doesn’t mean they have no more use for sign language. Continue signing until your baby is not afraid to tackle the most difficult of words without sign assistance. Learn a new sign today and see what happens!