Speech vs Language – Not The Same Thing!

Many parents question the effectiveness of baby sign, wonder what the pros and cons of teaching your baby sign language are, and worry if this technique is actually worth the effort.

If that sounds like you, let me share my story:

I started teaching both my daughters baby sign language when they were around 6 months old. And I continued teaching new signs (as they became relevant) until they were 2.5 to 3 years old. By this age, our daughters were using spoken words more and more, and the signing naturally slowed down. Eventually, they stopped using sign language completely as their speech became more fluent.

To be honest, I personally didn’t experience any ‘cons’…

In the beginning, my husband was a little hesitant about teaching our daughter sign language because he wasn’t convinced it would actually be helpful. At that time, sign language for babies was a fairly new concept (at least for us!) and we didn’t know anyone else who had tried this technique.

But once our daughter started signing back at 8 months, and was communicating her needs and wants so clearly, he was extremely glad I took the time to teach her!

I personally didn’t struggle to remember to sign with our daughter on a daily basis–probably because I have a background in American Sign Language–so I found it fairly easy to recall signs as needed.

And because I’m an overachiever (combined with deep-rooted LOVE of sign language) I taught my daughter a lot more signs than just the basics. (For example: she could recognize and sign all her colors by 18 months)

I think as first-time parents we sometimes assume that because our children are still too young to talk… they are also too young to understand language. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!

I’m not going to try and muddle my way through an explanation of ‘Speech vs. Language’ myself…

Laura Berg (founder of, MySmartHands.com) does a much better job than I ever could!

Watch the video below *It’s worth it, I promise!*

And as they say “the proof is in the pudding”…

By the time MY daughter was 2 years old, she could sign well over 100 words, and was constantly surprising me with her level of understanding of the world around her.

Looking back, I realize that if I hadn’t taken the time to teach my daughter sign language, I would have never known how perceptive, knowledgeable, and expressive a child under the age of 2 could be :)

Speech vs. Language - they are not the same thing!Click To Tweet

Aside from our daughter being able to communicate with us (almost 2 years) before she learned to talk, there were a few other unexpected ‘Pros’:

  • We were able to address her needs more quickly (and without confusion) which cut back on a LOT of crying, whining, and tantrums.
  • Mealtime went so much more smoothly. She would sign MORE if she was still hungry, she would sign ALL-DONE when she was full. And, she would sign specific food signs if she wanted something to eat that we hadn’t offered her.
  • Our daughter signed HELP when she couldn’t get a toy to work, get a cover off a marker, or wanted a toy up on a shelf that was too high for her (rather than getting upset).
  • My husband and I both feel we were able to develop a closer bond with her because of the connections we were able to make at such an early age.
  • She was more self-confident and content (a very happy child) knowing that she could be ‘heard’ and ‘understood’ at all times.
  • This is one of my favorites… we really didn’t experience the terrible two’s – at all!
  • And as a result of combining Sign & Speech (it’s important to ALWAYS say the word you’re signing!), she was an early talker and developed a large vocabulary early on.

And the exciting part? You’re creating an environment where your child feels more loved, more connected, and more confident.

So when a parent asks me, “What are the pros and cons of teaching your baby sign language?” I tell them, “well, I don’t know any cons… but I have a huge long list of pros!”

Now I know what you’re thinking… I want that, too!

So let’s do it together!

Let’s work together to make sure you’re not missing an important step. To help you get started, download one of my freebies.

You’ve got this,

P.S. Did you find this information helpful? If so, please use the social share buttons below so more moms can find it :) Thanks!

Meet the Author

Marcie Paige

Marcie Paige is an early communication and baby sign language strategist who give's frustrated moms like YOU, the tools to stop tantrums, build confidence and replace crying with communication. To start teaching your baby sign language right away, check out her signature program: Adventures In Baby Signing - A beginners guide to using baby sign language to connect & communicate with confidence.

2 comments… add one
  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I was just talking to my husband about teaching our daughter a few words (more, done, help), but we weren’t sure it was possible. After reading your post, I’m willing to give it a try, if only for the benefit of possibly cutting down on tantrums.
    Great post!

    • Marcie Paige

      Great signs to start with! Would love to hear how it goes :)

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