Teaching sign language to both deaf and hearing babies is a growing trend in North America. It appears that babies who are exposed to sign language are able to also babble in sign language.
The typical age for hearing babies to start making vocal noises is anywhere from 6-9 months. Researchers believe that this is the time when babies begin to process language by trying to match sound and rhythm to the surrounding language.
Babies taught sign language do the same, but instead they match action to the surrounding language.
In a study involving six hearing infants (3 with hearing parents and 3 with deaf parents), researches tried to discover whether or not the baby’s hand movements had any linguistic qualities.
The 3 children with deaf parents hand movements similar to the rhythm of their parent’s signing whereas the hearing infants’ hand movements had no resemblance to the American Sign Language rhythm.
Toddlers can have a signing vocabulary of 80 words but understand up to 300. Furthermore, learning sign language is incredibly stimulating, as it has been shown to cause toddlers to create their own new words in sign.